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Let the voting begin.

County clerks mailed out an estimated 920,000 ballots Monday for the June 28 primary election.

All-by-mail voting is occurring in 20 of Utah's 29 counties and will involve about three of every four registered voters in the state.

The early mailing "gives voters time to study the candidates," said Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen, whose county sent out 417,052 ballots. "They have weeks to make a decision, if they want to take weeks, or they can vote immediately and mail it back."

Ballots must be postmarked by June 27. They may also be dropped off on Election Day, June 28, at in-person voting centers or drive-up drop boxes. Locations for them are listed on websites of county clerks around the state.

"We really do hope and encourage that people send them back sooner than later," Swensen said, "so we can get as many ballots included in election-night totals as possible."

Mark Thomas, state elections director for Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, said this is Utah's biggest experiment with by-mail voting so far — coming after successes in smaller city elections and use by a handful of counties in all their elections.

The counties conducting by-mail elections are Beaver, Cache, Davis, Duchesne, Garfield, Grand, Iron, Juab, Kane, Morgan, Rich, Salt Lake, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Uintah, Wasatch, Wayne and Weber.

Thomas said he has seen far fewer complaints than he expected from voters, who he figured might be more reluctant to give up traditional in-person voting.

"They've really appreciated receiving a ballot in the mail, much to my surprise," he said, "and being able to study the issues and candidates and not have to go to the polls and try to find parking and fight through the crowds."

A Utah Foundation study last year found that voting by mail increased turnout by an average of 52 percent in the 70 cities that used it in 2015 and in some countywide votes such as on Proposition 1 about transportation taxes along the Wasatch Front.

For example, in Salt Lake City — which had a close mayoral contest last year — the turnout was 54.6 percent, up from 13 percent in 2013 and 24 percent in 2011.

"In smaller elections and in this primary election, you will probably see a higher turnout than you have seen in the past" because of voting by mail, Thomas said. But officials don't expect it to make much of a difference in the presidential election because "if you're gong to vote for president, you're going to do it regardless of the method of voting."

Thomas noted the state is studying how and whether to replace voting machines that are nearing the end of their expected life spans, so how well voting by mail works in this primary will be watched closely.

"Certainly, by-mail voting is a potential long-term solution," he said.

While voting by mail has boosted turnout, Thomas said the jury is still out about whether it saves money or even costs more. He said savings from not operating polling sites is often eaten up by the cost of postage.

He also said most counties would expect needing to print ballots for only perhaps 30 percent of all voters for a primary because of low turnout, but they must print ballots for 100 percent of voters when using a by-mail system.

Swensen urges people with any questions — including about not receiving a ballot or losing a ballot — to call county clerk offices. Voting information statewide is also available at

Swensen says her county has several options for people who want to vote in person. It is among 12 counties that will offer early-voting centers from June 14 through 24 for those who want to cast ballots in person or drop off their by-mail forms there.

Other counties with early-voting centers include Box Elder, Carbon, Daggett, Emery, Iron, Kane, Millard, Piute, Tooele, Utah and Washington.

All counties will have at least one in-person voting center on Election Day, and Salt Lake County will have 24. Salt Lake County will also offer Election Day voter registration for people with identification and proof of residency.

The Republican primary includes contests between Gov. Gary Herbert and Jonathan Johnson, the 3rd District U.S. House race between Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Chia-Chi Teng, and 11 legislative contests.

On the Democratic side is a matchup for U.S. Senate between Jonathan Swinton and Misty K. Snow. Also to be decided by both parties are numerous county and school board races.