For Carbon citizens preparing to vote in the June 25 primary elections, important changes may be in store depending on where the residents live and whether they are registered with a political party.
Several factors could affect a person's right to vote and cast ballots for a preferred political party, points out the county clerk's office. Two items have changed.
First, redistricting by the Utah legislature has affected not only the general election in November, but also voting precinct boundaries.
Second, the Utah Republican Party has closed its primary election. Primaries are a function of the parties, not of the government like general elections. Therefore, residents planning on voting a Republican ticket must be registered with the party.
"Our original plans were to send out new voter identification cards to everyone in the county who was registered, mainly because of the precinct changes," explained clerk-auditor Robert Pero on Tuesday afternoon. "But when we studied the idea, we realized it would cost almost $8,000 to do so. So instead, we are going to mail out 2,100 cards to the people whose addresses have changed or whose precincts have been changed."
It may seem logical that the precinct changes are the main reason for dealing with the situation in this particular way. But according to deputy county clerk Alexis Horsley, people moving is a more important issue.
"This year, I have been seeing a lot of petitions coming through here," stated Horsley. "We have to check petitions to see that those who sign them are registered voters. We are finding that many of the people who are signing these documents are listing addresses we do not have them listed at. That means they have moved and haven't informed us. When voters move, they need to re-register because most of the time they have moved to a different precinct."
The rules have also changed for provisional ballots.
When people went to a precinct where they were not registered in the past, election judges called the county clerk's office.
The clerk's office would determine where residents should vote and the judges would direct the individuals to the proper precincts. But the process has changed.
"The voter will be able to register on the spot, but will only be able to vote on a provisional ballot," indicated Pero. "That means the process of counting the vote will be handled differently. It will not go in the ballot box, but will be held out and counted on canvas day (usually the Monday after the election) with the absentee ballots."
"Of course, for citizens to vote in this way, we must verify they have moved and are in the proper precinct," added the county clerk-auditor.
The situation with the Utah Republicans closing the party's primary elections at also complicates the matter.
"If a person is a registered Republican they can vote Republican," stated Pero. "But if they're of any other party, including being unaffiliated, they will not be able to get a Republican ballot."
For all other political parties, including Democrat, Green, Libertarian and Natural Law that may not be registered with the state, citizens not claiming GOP affiliation can vote for any candidate - except Republican primary election hopefuls.
Carbon County citizens who are registered Republicans can vote for candidates in any political party.
Regardless of political party affiliation, all registered residents can only vote once.
"If people walk in and want to vote for the Republican candidates, they can do so. But they must either be a registered Republican beforehand or they must be unaffiliated and register as a Republican on the spot in writing," explained Pero.
"Persons registered with other parties cannot vote for Republican candidates," pointed out the county clerk-auditor.
In addition, Horsley mentioned that Carbon County residents who will turn 18 years old by June 25 can complete the registration process and vote.
"They need to come in and register if they wish to vote," said Horsley. "We would just like everyone who wants to vote at the primary to come in and register as early as possible."
Carbon County residents who wish to register may complete the process in person before June 17 at the county clerk's office.
There will also be satellite registration available on June 14 and June 17 at the Helper City Hall, at the East Carbon City Hall and at the county courthouse from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Mail-in voter registrations will be accepted at the county clerk's office until June 17. But the voter registrations must be postmarked by June 4
Individuals living at locations within Carbon's designated boundaries may also register at the courthouse anytime before June 17.
Pero and Horsley urge Carbon County citizens who may have questions about voting status to contact the county clerk's office.
Residents may contact the county clerk's office by telephone at 636-3201.
"We'd much rather hear from people before election day and solve problems before hand than to have to do it on the day of the primary," concluded Pero.