What to know about voting in the primary elections as an unaffiliated voter

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(ABC4 News) – With the majority of the United States population identifying as either a Republican or Democrat, it can be confusing to be an unaffiliated or independent voter.

With Super Tuesday coming up on March 3, 2020, in Utah this year, unaffiliated voters likely have lots of questions that affiliated voters don’t have to think about.

Can I vote in the Super Tuesday election? Do I need to request a ballot or will I receive a mail-in ballot at home? We did our best to answer all of those questions for you right here.

Firstly, an unaffiliated voter means someone who is not registered as a Democrat, Republican, or any other political party. Don’t remember your voter status or affiliation? Click here to check.

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot while also changing your unaffiliated voter registration has already passed, BUT unaffiliated voters will still have a chance to change their party affiliation and cast a vote by voting in person at an official polling place on March 3, 2020. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot without changing your unaffiliated status is February 25, 2020.

Voters can only vote in one party’s primary election. Unaffiliated voters casting ballots in the Democratic Primary are not required to affiliate with the Utah Democratic Party.

On the other hand, the Utah Republican party requires that those who vote in the Republican Primary affiliate with their party. Those interested in voting Republican will need to register as a Republican when voting in-person during the early voting period or on Election Day.

Procedures for requesting a ballot may vary by county. Visit vote.utah.gov for more information.

Those who need to register to vote can do so either at their county clerk’s office before 5 p.m. on February 25, 2020, or by using the online registration system by the same date.

Those who miss these deadlines can still register to vote and cast a ballot at an early voting location or an Election Day voting center.

What is it like to be an unaffiliated voter in Utah?

ABC4 News reached out to Katie Rogers, an unaffiliated Utah voter, to see what the process of voting generally looks like for her. Rogers said she chose not to affiliate because she doesn’t feel that she fits perfectly in either party.

“My beliefs and my political views don’t align enough with either party for me to say, “Okay, I can affiliate and I can be part of this,” so being unaffiliated is the only other option really,” she said.

As far as the process of voting, Rogers said it’s not as complicated as it seems. She said in January, she received a mail notice telling her that if she waned to vote in the Democratic primary, she could with out affiliating.

“It seems a little scary because there’s not a whole lot of information out there, but honestly if you just mark it down and let your registrar know, they really just send you the mail and then you just fill out the forms they give you and it’s super easy, so it’s not really a scary thing. It’s just follow the instructions.”

Rogers said the only downside to being an unaffiliated voter is you can’t vote in the Republican Primary.

“… so you do lose out on that if you do lean a little bit more Republican than Democrat, you don’t get that opportunity,” she said.

“If you’re unaffiliated, you can choose to vote in the Democratic but you are not able to vote in the Republican unless you choose to affiliate as Republican.

ABC4 asked Rogers why people may be hesitant to not affiliate.

“Because there’s not a lot of information. In my experience in Utah, people don’t talk about where or how they’re voting or what parties they’re a part of unless they are very involved,” she said. “So anyone that’s more moderate kind of gets left in the unknown, and because you’re unknown, you don’t talk about it. And because no one’s talking about it, it’s scary.”

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

 Glen is honored to be delivering the news of the day every weeknight at 5, 6, and 10 in his home state. He is an award-winning veteran journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team as a weekend anchor in June 2013. Over the years, he held various positions at the station as he worked his way up to the main anchor chair. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent and hosts Inside Utah Politics, which airs every Sunday. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...