This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Utahns who can turn in mail-in ballots now should, and those expecting to vote in person Tuesday may face massive lines.
That's the message from Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen, who is getting concerned with how few ballots she's received so far, which may lead to some problems on Election Day.
"I can't get my head around what is going on here," she said.
Salt Lake County has seen a major spike in voter registrations this year, 42,000 since September, which Swensen takes as a sign of interest in the election, but the actual ballots have only trickled in.
Swensen's office had received 222,000 ballots as of Friday, far below projections. Overall, she guesses 400,000 Salt Lake County residents will vote this year. She believes some might be waiting to vote because they are unsure of whom they want to support in the presidential race.
If she's right, that means either a flood of ballots will come in the last days or many people will head to, and likely overwhelm, the 37 voting centers in the county. A third option is that the county has lower turnout than expected.
Because every registered voter received a mail-in ballot, the county consolidated hundreds of normal polling places into just 37, meant for people who lost their ballot, never received it or needed assistance.
"I don't know which way I'm going to get slammed," she said. "We didn't anticipate having hundreds of thousands of people vote at vote centers. I don't know what to think. It is a strange election."
Here's how Utahns can still vote:
• Put your ballot in the mail, though they must be postmarked by Monday.
• Vote in person at a vote center on Tuesday. Locations can be found at vote.utah.gov.
• Bring your mail-in ballot to a collection box or a voting center by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Those who take this option don't have to wait in line, they can bring their ballot to poll workers directly.
A crush of late arriving mail-in ballots may slow the counting and lead to incomplete results released Tuesday. The remaining ballots, which Swensen said could easily be more than 50,000, would then be added to the totals on Thursday.
Because this is Utah's first major mail-in election (21 of 29 counties are voting primarily by mail), Mark Thomas, Utah's elections director, is urging clerks to deploy as many voting machines and poll workers as possible.
"As election officials we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which would be getting a lot of people on Election Day," he said.
He expects it will take Utahns a few campaign cycles to get used to the new voting method and he sympathizes with voters unsure of whom to support.
"But as soon as you are able to make your decision, get your ballot in," he urged. "It would be best for everyone to get it in over the weekend."