Utah sees high voter turnout amid vote-by-mail mandate
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah saw one of its best primary election voter turnout in years despite issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s primaries were conducted exclusively by mail, though some voters were able to vote at drive-through locations in seven counties.
Research suggests voting by mail likely boosted voter turnout compared to 2016, when eight counties barred mail ballots, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
The state had 558,000 votes cast in June’s primary, a number that could grow as final ballots are counted, State Elections Director Justin Lee told The Tribune.
“We were really concerned (the coronavirus pandemic) would impact turnout significantly, and it didn’t seem to at all,” Lee told The Tribune. “This just blows away any primary we’ve had in the past decade or more.”
Republican Party turnout was 67% of its members in this year’s primary, compared to 39% of party members in the 2016 governor’s primary, which saw incumbent governor Gary Herbert beat Jonathan Johnson.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox won July’s primary in a tight contest with former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Cox won 37% of the vote to Huntsman’s 35%, with former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes netting 21% of the vote.
Cox will take on University of Utah professor Chris Peterson, a Democrat, in November’s gubernatorial election.