Vote-by-mail nearly doubled voter turnout in Salt Lake County and other municipalities across Utah for Tuesday’s primary election, but the new program — a first for many cities — also caused a few problems. It will take at least a week to officially determine the winners in six close city council races in Salt Lake County and Davis County because many last-minute mail ballots could still be making their way back to clerks’ offices. In Utah County, Orem received nearly 1,300 by-mail ballots the day after the election due to a miscommunication at a post office, so that bulk of votes won’t be made public until the city finishes its canvassing on Aug. 25.
“As much as everyone tries, there is just such thing as a perfect election — there never is,” said State Elections Director Mark Thomas. “By conducting vote-by-mail in such a widespread election in so many cities, it allows us to learn what we need to do better. I think everyone did the best they could to prepare, knowing there was going to be some challenges.”
Election results are never final until city councils finishing canvassing, which is required by law seven to 14 days after an election. But while vote-by-mail increases voter turnout, it also increases the number of ballots that won’t be counted on election night, Thomas said.