Exceptional voter turnout in Sanpete

Snow College students Dylan Trimble (left) and Braxton Mickelson fill out their voting ballots on the floor in the hall just beyond the busy Sanpete County Courthouse voting area.


Exceptional voter turnout in Sanpete


By Suzanne Dean




MANTI—Like news flowing in from around the nation and across Utah, Sanpete County is reporting exceptional voter turnout today.

Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill says she doesn’t have hard numbers, “but I’m guessing around 80 percent” of the nearly 12,000 registered voters.

That includes 200-plus provisional ballots, mostly from people who registered and voted in the past week. Many of those voters may be Snow College students or others who have been in the county a short time.

In 2014, the last midterm election, 52 percent of registered voters in the county showed up. By 8 p.m. tonight, when voting closes, Sanpete’s midterm turnout could exceed the 81 percent recorded in the 2016 general election.

Neill says problems getting mailed ballots into voter hands were resolved in late October. Ballots that were printed in and mailed from Minnesota were supposed to arrive at the Provo post office by about Oct. 15 and begin showing up in Sanpete mail boxes on Oct. 16. But only a third of 11,734 ballots got to Provo on time.

The remaining ballots were lost in shipment until they were located Oct. 26 at the Salt Lake City post office.

For a time, Neill didn’t know if all of the missing ballots, or just some of them, were included in the shipment found in Salt Lake City. Since then, she has confirmed all of the ballots not mailed from Provo in mid-October were in Salt Lake City. Sanpete voters who did not receive their ballots in mid-October received them between Oct. 27 and Nov. 1.

But there was one more problem. A small number of Sanpete County ballots were misprinted with the Millard County Clerk’s Office as the return address. If one of those ballots was undeliverable to a Sanpete voter, it ended up in Millard County.

Neill says her office and the Millard County Clerk’s office worked things out. Millard County paid the return postage, scanned the ballots, and emailed the ballots to Neill so her office could update the voter registration records and try to locate the affected voters.

Apparently, Sanpete didn’t suffer the worst of external-vendor problems. Some of the Summit County ballots had the San Juan County Clerk’s Office as the mailing address. Summit County has been using the media to instruct voters to cross out the San Juan County address and write in the correct Summit County Clerk’s mailing address.

Because of multiple bad experiences jobbing out ballot preparation and delivery, Neill says her office will prepare and mail ballots itself next election.