In 2000 Utah held it's first ever primary dealing with a presidential election. The results of the statewide election determined the percentage of delegates each presidential candidate received from Utah at national conventions for both the Republican and Democratic parties. The primary was funded by the state of Utah.
However, at the 2003 general session of the Utah State Legislature, the presidential primary law was amended to make the election contingent on funding from that body. In the 2003 legislative session no money was granted for the primary this year, so the upcoming primary will not be funded by the state, but by the Democratic party instead.
Since there are no candidates, other than President Bush, running for the Republican nomination, that party will not be involved in any kind of presidential primary in the state.
The party-run primary will have the same effect on the process that a state-run primary would have had, which is to determine to which candidate(s) the 29 delegate votes to the Democratic National Convention will be committed.
According to Carbon County's primary election chair, Alexis Horsley, the polling will be held on February 24 and it will be an open election, meaning all citizens are welcome to take part in the process.
To vote in the election a person must be a United States citizen, 18 years of age by the time the general election takes place on Nov. 2, a Utah resident and they must declare themselves to be voting as a Democrat at the time of the primary.
Since the primary is being funded by the Democratic party, most of the usual polling places will not be open for voting.
"In Carbon County we will be using the Helper City Library, the Price City Library, the Wellington City Hall and the East Carbon Senior Citizen Center for polling places," stated Horsley.
The polling hours will also be different than the normal polling times. The polls will open at noon and close at 8 p.m. the evening of Feb. 24.
At present those on the ballot include Wesley. K. Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, John F. Kerry, Dennis J. Kucinich and Joseph I. Lieberman. However, with some of the above having pulled out of the race since the primary's announcement as well as a couple more possibly pulling out in the next week, that could change.
"We are particularly excited about Utah's upcoming primary," said State Democratic Chair, Donald Dunn, in a news release. "With the Utah primary taking place at such an early date in the selection process, this is a wonderful opportunity for our state to grab national attention in the Presidential election process."
While absentee ballots can be obtained by calling the Utah Democratic Party at (801) 328-1212 or by downloading an application for one at www.utdemocrats.org, there will not be any internet voting in this primary election, largely due to the financial obligation required and the fact that many people are concerned about the security of such a system.
"This is a good chance for the electorate in the county to get involved in the presidential primary selection process," said Horsley. "We hope a lot of people will come out to the polls that day."