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Vote by mail returns are showing that a relatively large number of people are voting early.

As of Monday, nearly 6.6 percent of the mail-in ballots sent to Salt Lake City residents had been returned and processed, Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen informed the County Council earlier this week. That's just a week after her office mailed out 402,000 ballots.

The percentage was even slightly higher (6.8 percent) from voters in Millcreek Township, the unincorporated community where the question of city versus metro township is most contested in the Community Preservation election.

But it's Draper voters who've turned out to be the speediest so far, with 14.7 percent of the ballots sent there already having found their way back to the clerk's office, Swensen said. People there are choosing three at-large council members from a field of six candidates.

"We know vote-by-mail increases turnout," she said, citing figures from the Aug. 11 primary election. Voter turnout then was 33 percent overall and 40.4 percent in Salt Lake City, where the mayor's race drew considerable interest and several council seats also were up for grabs.

By contrast, Swensen noted, voter turnout was just 13.8 percent for a primary involving a council seat in West Valley City, one of two municipalities (Taylorsville is the other) that opted against vote by mail.

As more mail-in votes arrive in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 3 election, Swensen will be evaluating how quickly her staff can certify the incoming ballots. It's a process that involves matching signatures on the ballots with those on record, which takes time.

"The biggest challenge would be to verify and process the large number coming in at the end of a presidential election," she said, anticipating how the 2016 vote might be conducted.

For this election, residents must have their mail-in ballots postmarked by Monday, Nov. 2. Ballots also may be taken to the county election division office or to the pertinent city recorder's office.

Swensen said the county also has a dozen secure "drop boxes" where ballots can be deposited until polls close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. They are at:

• Herriman City Hall, 13011 S. Pioneer St.,

• Kearns Recreation Center, 5670 Cougar Lane

• Magna Library, 2675 S. 8950 West

• Millcreek UPD office, 1580 E. 3900 South

• Murray City Hall, 5025 S. State

• Riverton City Hall, 12830 Redwood Road

• River's Bend Senior Center, 1300 W. 300 North

• Salt Lake County Government Center, 2001 S. State

• Sandy City Hall, 10000 Centennial Parkway

• South Jordan City Hall, 1600 W. Towne Center Dr.

• West Jordan City Hall, 8000 S. Redwood Road

• West Valley City Hall, 3600 S. Constitution Blvd.