State implements reforms to improve '04 election process
Carbon County voters casting ballots in the Republican primary election on June 22 will notice several changes in the process.
According to the Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office, numerous reforms, including changes in state and federal law, have been implemented to correct imperfections discovered in 2000 and maintain accessible and error-free elections.
The 2004 Utah Legislature amended the state's absentee voting law.
The amended law allows all registered voters to cast absentee ballots.
The purpose of the change is to reduce lines at polling locations on election day and increase voter turnout, explained the lieutenant governor's office.
Individuals interested in voting by absentee may contact the county clerks office.
To prevent fraud, an act signed into law in 2002 requires all voters who registered by mail or in a drive after Jan. 1, 2003 to provide photo identification or proof of residency before casting ballots. Regardless of how or when local residents registered, all voters should bring identification to the polls on election day.
Additionally, individuals who have moved within a county and have not re-registered at new addresses may still cast provisional ballots at their new voting precincts. A provisional ballot requires the individual to provide information regarding residency as well as identity and to affirm that he or she is registered to vote.
Following the primary election, the registration status of a provisional voter will be verified.
Provisional votes cast by residents registered in the county will be counted with the absentee ballots.
Locally, polling places have often been consolidated in the past. But that will not happen during the upcoming election.
"We have taken care to be sure people aren't confused by not combining polling places for this election," explained Carbon County Clerk Bob Pero. "In the past, that has sometimes created problems for voters so we are trying to have things be as clear as possible."
The primary election is only for registered Republicans or residents wishing to register with the party.
"The Republican Party officials closed their primaries in the 2000 election and that same thing will be in effect in this election," stated Pero. "People need to know that, if they are not a registered Republican, they cannot vote in this election."
"They can, however, register as a Republican at the polls if they are presently unaffiliated and want to affiliate with that party," pointed out the county clerk.
There are currently 1,621 registered Republican Party members residing in Carbon County.
The Republican primary on June 22 will pit the two gubernatorial candidates and their running mates against each other who came out of the party's state convention last month.
Jon M. Huntsman Jr. and running mate Utah County Commissioner Gary Herbert will square off at the primary polls against Nolan E. Karras and former Utah Congresswoman Enid Greene for the Republican spot on the general election ballot.
The winning Republican gubernatorial candidate will face Democrat Scott Matheson Jr. in the general election.
The other race that will be decided is between two candidates for the right to run against Democrat Jim Matheson in Utah's 2nd Congressional District.
Tim Bridgewater will go up against John Swallow for the chance to compete with Matheson for one of three seats Utah has in the United States Congress.
Carbon citizens may call the county clerk's office at 636-3201 to clarify their voting status, pointed out Pero.
In addition to preparing for the primary, the clerk's office has started getting ready for the general election in November.
"In that planning process, we are going to send out new voter identification cards to everyone who is registered in the county," pointed out Pero. "We want things to go smoothly in both elections."
The reforms, along with numerous American Disability Act (ADA) accessibility improvements, have been made to upgrade the election process.
Carbon County voters who may feel their rights were denied on election day should contact the offices listed in the uniform information posted at all local polling locations.
By the time the general election rolls around, Pero indicated that all of the polling places in Carbon County will be ADA compliant.
"We found that some of the polling places didn't meet the ADA standard and that will be corrected," concluded the county clerk.