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Early in-person voting begins in Utah



SALT LAKE CITY — Tuesday was the first day of early in-person voting across Utah, and the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office had a lot of voters show up in the first few hours after they opened their doors in the morning.

“I heard about 250 [people],” said Salt Lake County clerk Sherrie Swensen. “We opened at 8 a.m.”

It was more than Swensen is used to on the first day of early voting.

“But they’ve been moving through quickly,” Swensen said. “So, it’s working very well.”

Swensen said the county has a record number of registered voters this year.

“In 2018, there were 517,000 on election day. We’re at 600,000,” she said.

Although there were lines and wait times, voters said the process was smoother than expected.

“It’s easier than I ever could’ve imagined,” Tony Fantis said. “I was in and out, not only getting my registration done, but also voting in 20 minutes.”

With the effects of the pandemic, Salt Lake County is taking the health and safety of voters very seriously this year. Implementing social distancing — six feet between each voter — and handing out individual styluses and a plastic glove to each person to use while voting.

“[So] they don’t have to share a surface with someone else,” Swensen said.

Although in-person voting is running efficiently so far, the county is still asking people to send their ballot in the mail or drop it off at one of 29 drop box locations.

“Please, if you have a by-mail ballot, use that ballot,” Swensen added. “Because this really is for the people who need to be here.”

Swensen was referring to voters who did not receive a ballot in the mail, or need ADA assistance while voting.

And with the social distancing guidelines, Swensen is worried lines will grow very fast if a lot of people show up to vote in person.

“20 people in line and the line is 120 feet long,” Swensen said. “Normally 20 people in line would be hardly anything, but with six-foot social distancing, it could make for some very long lines.”

Voters at the Salt Lake County clerk’s office Tuesday said they were grateful for how hard the county is working to ensure everyone can vote, whether it be through the mail, or in person.

“I think the county has gone out of their way,” Janet Cook said. “To make sure that there’s enough poll workers, and everybody’s trained, and everybody’s safe.”

The clerk’s office is the only in-person polling location for right now, but the county will open 12 more early voting locations starting Oct. 23.

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