SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah is seeing record voter registration and early turnout for the 2018 midterm elections. As political parties try to get out their base, the large block of unaffiliated voters is becoming a key aspect to win.
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swenson said the amount of activity she’s seen has been unprecedented.
“This exceeds anything I’ve ever seen in a midterm,” said Swenson.
Normally new voter registrations and turnout are low in midterms. Since early September the number of new registered voters is at nearly 40,000. That is a huge jump from the 2014 midterms which were just over 5,000 voters registered in the same time frame.
Swenson said it’s starting to feel a lot more like a presidential election year.
“The increase in registrations, the enthusiasm about people wanting to vote,” said Swenson. “The number of ballots that have been returned is exceptional at this point.”
In Salt Lake County, 26.8 percent of active voters have already cast a ballot. 14.9 percent of the state has already voted.
Political experts note that a large chunk of voters in Utah are unaffiliated with a party. Morgan Lyon Cotti, who is Associate Director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics, notes it’s a key voting block to win.
“Our polling data shows that a lot of those unaffiliated voters are very moderate, and are really split between the two parties,” said Cotti.
According to the stats from Lt. Governor’s Office, Republicans have 665,223 active registered voters while Democrats have 174,119. Unaffiliated makes up 489,238 of active registered voters.
“You can’t win a congressional race, or a statewide race in Utah without appealing to those moderate voters a lot of whom are unaffiliated,” said Cotti
She notes a big chunk of those voters often vote Republican because of the wide margins seen in statewide races. They have a bigger impact on smaller races where some residents might split their vote. That indicates these people vote for candidates in both parties.
Utah residents with a state driver’s license can still register to vote online or in person until October 30. Those who’ve just moved to Utah can register at their local the county clerk’s office but will need to vote in person. Anyone can register to vote on Election Day at any polling location.