(KCPW News) Early voting in Salt Lake County’s municipal primaries began today at 12 satellite locations. County Clerk Sherrie Swensen says elections at the city level have more of a direct impact on voters’ lives than presidential elections, but typically draw a dismal turnout.
“I just hope we can get the kind of numbers that we would hope to see,” Swensen says. “You know, a lot of people voted early, over 140,000 last year during the presidential election. And so I hope a lot of those individuals realize that this is available and it’s a convenient option for them.”
During the last municipal primaries in September 2007, only 18 percent of the nearly 209,000 registered voters cast a ballot. This time, twelve cities in Salt Lake County will hold a primary election, including mayoral primaries in Murray, Bluffdale and West Valley City. In Salt Lake City, the primary will whittle down the race for City Council District 3 from six candidates to two.
A new statewide election law is in effect, requiring all voters to bring identification to the polls. Swensen fears it will disenfranchise the roughly 10 percent of voters who don’t have a photo ID.
“You know, I didn’t think we needed it. We hadn’t ever seen a case of someone going to the polls and posing as someone else. And so it causes a lot of concern to me, especially for people who are elderly and may not have one of those — like a driver’s license, a state ID or a passport,” Swensen says.
However, residents without photo ID can still vote with two other forms of identification on election day. Early ballots are available now through September 11th at the recorder’s office in each of the 12 cities holding primaries. Regular voting for the primary election will be held September 15 to narrow the field for the general election on November 3.