Not affiliated? Act now to vote
in Republican primary June 30
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—If you want to vote in Republican races for governor, Congress and other high profile offices, but are not a registered Republican, you need to take action right away, says Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill.
The only primary this year is in the Republican Party and will be completed Tuesday, June 30.
In Sanpete County, about 9,000 voters are registered as Republicans. But approximately 5,000 others are unaffiliated, or are registered as Democrats or members of other parties. But only registered Republicans can vote in the primary, Neill says.
A letter has already gone out to about 3,500 unaffiliated voters informing them they need to affiliate as Republicans in order to vote in the primary, Neill says. And some people registered in other parties may want to affiliate with the Republican Party in order to vote in the important races.
The highest profile race is the contest for Utah governor, which will narrow four candidates to one. The candidates are Spencer Cox, current lieutenant governor; Greg Hughes, former speaker of the Utah House of Representatives; Jon Huntsman, former governor who has served as U.S. ambassador to both China and Russia; and Thomas Wright, a former chairman of the Utah Republican Party.
Since Utah is dominantly Republican, the primary winner has an excellent chance to win the final election in November and become governor.
There will also be a race for the Republican nomination for attorney general. David Leavitt, Utah County attorney and brother of former governor Mike Leavitt, got enough votes at the Republican state convention to deprive Sean Reyes, the incumbent, of the nomination.
In the 4th congressional district, which includes Sanpete County north of Pigeon Hollow Junction, Kim Coleman, a state legislator from West Jordan, is running against Burgess Owens, a former NFL football player.
The winner will take on incumbent Democrat Ben McAdams. Because the district includes many Democratic areas in Salt Lake County, the race is expected to be competitive.
Finally, in the Utah House of Representatives, District 58, Steve Lund of Manti, currently a Sanpete County commissioner, is facing Clinton Painter of Nephi, a Juab County commissioner.
Lund won more than 60 percent of delegate votes at the Republican state convention. But Clinton Painter of Nephi, a county commissioner in Juab County, gathered enough signatures to also qualify for the primary ballot. The district takes in all of Sanpete County except the Axtell area, as well as the western half of Juab County, including Mona, Nephi and Levan.
Other key local races were decided in the state and county Republican conventions. Reed Hatch of Manti, currently the county treasurer, was nominated for county commission. And Derrin Owens of Fountain Green, currently a state representative, was nominated for the Utah State Senate in District 24, replacing Sen. Ralph Okerlund of Monroe, who is retiring at the end of this year. Hatch and Owens are unopposed in the November election.
The deadline for changing your party registration is June 19. But “it will save everybody’s taxpayer money” if voters act sooner than that, Neill says.
That’s because under federal law, county clerks can send out mass mailings at about 14 cents apiece. Neill plans to begin mailing ballots on June 9. But the address list needs to be finalized by June 1 for ballots to be printed on time.
If people change their party registration between June 1 and the June 19 deadline, Neill will have to mail ballots to them one by one. Mailing those late ballots will cost about 70 cents apiece, she says.
If you affiliate, or change affiliation, but want to change back to your original party, you need to wait until July, Neill notes. When primary votes are counted, each ballot will automatically be checked against the voter rolls to make sure the voter is a registered Republican. If you reverse your affiliation prior to the primary, your vote will be thrown out, she says.
Another change is that under coronavirus legislation passed by the recent special session of the Utah Legislature, county clerks will not provide service at their office counters this year.
If possible, voters should use the website http://www.vote.utah.gov to register to vote, or for registration changes, Neill says. If you do come to the office, the staff will give you a form to fill out away from the office and to drop in the ballot box outside.
The exception is disabled voters. If a voter is unable to register or vote without assistance, the clerk’s staff can even go to the person’s home to assist. “We’ll do what it takes” to help disabled voters cast ballots, Neill says.