Will coronavirus suppress voter turnout for this year’s primary?


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – This year, Utah’s primary election will not feature in-person voting or in-person registration on Election Day over safety concerns related to coronavirus.

But is that suppressing voter turnout?

“We know so far about 26 percent of voters have voted in the overall turnout of the election — which is very good for a primary election so far. It’s not great for a normal election but for a primary election it’s a pretty good number,” said Justin Lee, Utah’s Director of Elections.

On Tuesday afternoon, folks across the state could drive up to various locations to pick up a ballot if they lost their mail-in document or never received it.

But they had to stay in their cars, and they certainly were not filling out ballots inside a booth.

Utah is one of just a handful of states where every county has already adopted mail-in voting, and Lee says that’s a big reason why turnout appears to be strong this year despite these restrictions. That, he says, and a number of high-profile primary races.

“I am surprised at how good the turnout is already. I didn’t think we’d see as high a turnout as we’re seeing until a couple days until after Election Day — so when more ballots came back in the mail. So I’m very encouraged by the turnout — it’s a great number for us,” said Lee.

It’s unclear how many people will submit ballots on Tuesday, or how long it could take before results are finalized.

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Nick McGurk
Nick McGurk is an Emmy Award winning journalist and a Utah native — and he couldn’t be happier to be covering news, and raising a family, in his home state.

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