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County clerks hope for last-minute voter turnout in Utah primary

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah residents are rushing to the polls at the last minute to make sure their votes are counted before Tuesday’s primary election.

As of 4 p.m. Monday, the Lieutenant Governor's office announced that voter turnout statewide was 24.2%. Some of the rural counties have the highest turnout, with 43.9% in Piute and 43.6% in San Juan, while Utah County has the lowest turnout at 16.6%.

At the Salt Lake County polling station, KSL TV was there as thousands of ballots were cast around noon. There was only a single batch of about 390,000 ballots that was sent out across the county. According to the lieutenant governor's data, voter turnout in Salt Lake County is 23.8%.

Salt Lake County Clerk Lannie Chapman hopes Utahns across the state will remember to cast their ballots in the primary election.

“I see a lot of people taking their time and casting their ballots. And this weekend, we're seeing a lot of this weekend and today and tomorrow, I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of ballots and a lot of turnout tomorrow,” Chapman said.

Chapman said you should still plan to vote even if your ballot is not in perfect condition.

“I've seen a lot of coffee stains, I've seen spaghetti stains, I've seen them all. These ballots can still be processed. You don't need a new ballot just because there's a stain on it.”

Did you lose your ballot or accidentally throw it away? Chapman said you should just go to the polling place nearest you. They are all open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

“It will be very quick and you will still be able to make your voice heard, but you will do so in person and not by mail,” she said.

What is at stake?

Republicans and Democrats are currently deciding who will represent their party in November. But only Republicans have statewide elections.

No Democrat has represented Utah in the U.S. Senate since 1977. Utah hasn't had a Democratic governor since 1980, meaning anyone who makes it to the Republican primary has a good chance of doing well in November.

New polls released Monday in the U.S. Senate and governor's races showed Rep. John Curtis and Gov. Spencer Cox with significant leads over their closest challengers.

According to the Noble Predictive Insights poll, Curtis is 20 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Trent Staggs, and no other candidate reached double-digit points.

In the race for governor, Cox was 13 points ahead of Phil Lyman.

However, turnout for Curtis and Cox was not particularly high among voters in rural areas and southern Utah.

The poll found that southern Utah counties favored Staggs by two percentage points and Lyman by 33 percentage points.

“Utah's southern, rural areas were a problem for Cox in the 2020 gubernatorial primary, so it's no surprise that both Cox and Curtis are seeing some of their worst results there,” said David Blyer, NPI research director.

The study found that Republican women prefer both Cox and Curtis to their next opponents. The other interesting data was the so-called Trump factor.

The poll found that Republicans in Utah, who support Donald Trump more than the Republican Party, largely followed the Trump-backed candidate.

Staggs received 55% of these votes in the Senate race, Curtis 22%. In the race for governor, the gap is even wider. Among Republicans who favor Trump, Phil Lyman is 61 points ahead of Cox.

But for party loyalists, the party leaders turn back into Curits and Cox.

“It's getting harder and harder to oppose Trump in Utah,” Byler said. “But if you can bring together the anti-Trump faction with some pro-Trump voters – and lean on Republican women – you can build a solid coalition.”

“But as we approach the finish line, it’s clear that both Cox and Curtis are in the lead,” Byler said.

The poll surveyed 432 likely voters from June 20-21 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.71 percentage points. The poll used “frequent primary voters and Republicans who registered after the 2022 primaries.”

Anna Harden

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