Stay home on Election Day, if you prefer. This year, Salt Lake City is using a hybrid system of voting for the mayoral and district primaries, as well as general elections. The new structure combines a pure vote-by-mail system that mails ballots to all registered voters while operating at fewer physical polling locations than a traditional election. Following a trend set by other municipalities in Utah—and throughout the country—emphasizing vote-by-mail, Salt Lake City will operate only four polling locations for those who still choose to vote in person. Salt Lake County is conducting the election for the city and opted not to operate traditional polls in Salt Lake City a traditional system anyway, because of the decrepit state of the county’s voting machines. The Salt Lake County Clerk’s office will also oversee the elections for all other cities in the county, with the exception of Taylorsville and West Valley City (which declined vote-by-mail and will instead use a consolidated system, with fewer polling locations).
The county elections staff notified the Salt Lake City Council in February that the county’s touch-screen machines are no longer functional, which is why the county offered to implement the vote-by-mail system. At the time, just under 25 percent of active voters in Salt Lake City were already registered to vote by mail.
The change is also a cost-saving measure. According to a report assembled by the city council staff, switching from the traditional to the hybrid system will save the city up to an estimated $37,500 (not including recounts or audits). It’s also far less expensive than the county buying new voting machines.
In 2014, Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said there was an increase in participation in Cottonwood Heights and West Jordan, the two cities that did away with most traditional polling locations, using vote-by-mail almost exclusively.
Full Article: Mailing It In | News | Salt Lake City Weekly.