SALT LAKE CITY — Primary Election Day is Tuesday, but ballots from voters in the 27 of Utah's 29 counties holding largely by-mail elections must be postmarked no later than Monday to be counted.
Procrastinators can still drop their completed ballots off in person on Tuesday at a polling place, open from 7 a.m. until 8 pm., that can be located by entering a voter address on vote.utah.gov.
Those who can't find their ballots, which were sent out by county clerks in early June, can get a new one at their polling place Tuesday. Not registered to vote? No problem. Utahns can register on Election Day and then cast a ballot.
State Elections Director Justin Lee said after six years, by-mail elections are here to stay for the vast majority of Utah voters.
"We're virtually there at this point," Lee said, with only Carbon and Emery counties holding traditional elections. "Voters seem to be catching on and learning the ropes of this system."
Besides the above, his tips for voters include making sure they know when a ballot will actually be postmarked at a particular post office, or from a specific mailbox, since that varies.
Lee also said voters used to heading over to a neighborhood polling place on Election Day to cast their ballots will want to check and see if it's still being used, since by-mail elections allow for fewer sites.
And while it's too late to change political parties for the primary, unaffiliated voters still can choose to affiliate as a Republican at the polls on Tuesday to vote in that party's closed primary election. Any Democratic primaries are open to all voters.
By-mail elections may help boost voter turnout, he said, which is on track to exceed previous primaries. Salt Lake County, the state's most populous, had already matched 2016's just under 27 percent primary turnout by June 18.
"What we have seen with smaller turnout elections like primaries and municipal elections is that just getting a ballot in the mail is probably the best advertising there is an election," Lee said. "That seems to be helping turnout."
Also boosting voter participation is the race between the GOP's 2012 presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and state Rep. Mike Kennedy, R-Alpine, for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
"Clearly, the Romney-Kennedy primary is the one that is attracting attention. We're actually getting TV commercials and people are talking about it," University of Utah political science professor Matthew Burbank said.
Not only are both candidates filling the airwaves with commercials, their race is attracting national attention because of Romney's stature as well as his harsh criticism of President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential primary.
"Usually when we have a primary, we don't have candidates that are quite that high-profile," Burbank said. He said typically with a June primary, "people are thinking about their summer vacations or whatever else they're doing," not voting.
But in the Senate race, "given that one of the candidates is Mitt Romney, even people who don't pay a whole lot of attention to politics know Mitt Romney," Burbank said.
Other races that may be engaging voters include the rematch between Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, and former state lawmaker Chris Herrod in the 3rd Congressional District, he said, even though both Romney and Curtis hold big leads in polling.4 comments on this story
Democrats have a primary in the 1st Congressional District, between Layton social worker Lee Castillo and Bountiful retired Army major and paratrooper Kurt Weiland. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has represented the northern Utah district since 2003.
Burbank said by-mail voting is seen as a boost to voter turnout.
"Voting by mail has been an option that voters seem to like. It generally has led to higher turnout," he said. "It's a pretty convenient way to vote. You don't have to go anywhere on Election Day."