Republican primary ballots to go out
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—About 7,700 ballots for the June 26 primary election will be mailed to registered Republicans in Sanpete County next week.
Ballots will go out Tuesday, June 5, and will be mailed to registered Republicans only because that’s the only party with any primary races in the county.
In fact, there are only two races on the Sanpete primary ballot:
Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Utah Rep. Mike Kennedy of Alpine are running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.
And Ed Sunderland, retired farmer and long-time chairman of the Sanpete Water Conservancy District is facing Justin Atkinson, an engineer with a consulting engineering firm and a Mt. Pleasant city councilman are running for county commission.
There are no primary races in Sanpete County this year for the Utah Legislature or any school board seats.
Nor are there any primaries in the Democratic Party or in any of the other parties on the Sanpete ballot, including the United Utah Party, Constitution Party, Independent American Party, Libertarian Party or Green Party.
The Utah Republican Party has what is known as a “closed primary.” That means you have to be registered as a Republican to vote in this year’s primary.
Because the Republican Party is so dominant in the county, and because, in local races, winning the Republican primary practically assures election to the office, members of other parties sometimes switch their registration to Republican so they can vote in the primary—and switch back after the primary.
If you were thinking of making such a switch, it’s too late, Sandy Neill, county clerk, said. If you are registered as a Democrat, Libertarian, member of the Green Party, etc., the last day to switch your affiliation to Republican was Tuesday.
But if you’re not affiliated with any party, if you’re what is often referred to as an “independent,” it’s a different story.
A few weeks ago, the clerk’s office sent a letter to the 3,500 registered voters in the county who are not affiliated with any party. The letter explained that the only party with a primary was the Republican Party.
There was an attached sheet recipients could use to register as a Republican. Recipients could either mail in the form, or scan it and email it to the clerk’s office at the email address provided. Those forms were due May 21.
However, unaffiliated voters (“independents”) can still declare themselves to be Republicans until June 21, one week before primary election day, either by going to vote.utah.gov or by appearing in person at the county clerk’s office in the Sanpete County Courthouse in Manti.
To affiliate on-line or in-person, you must have your driver’s license for identification. The website requests information found only on the license.
In the past, the county clerk’s office, sometimes with help from other offices in the county courthouse, prepared and mailed all the ballot envelopes.
This year, Sanpete County and many other counties in the state are using an external vendor, Election Systems and Software of Omaha, Neb., to prepare and mail ballots. The company has promised that the ballots will reach voters within about the same timeframe as if mailed within the county.
Neill explained that the vote counting machine the county has been using is obsolete and no longer meets federal and state election certification standards.
The last Utah Legislature provided funding to counties to purchase new machines. Sanpete County now has a new counting machine.
However, to prepare ballots the new machine can read, the county would need new software. Because of the high costs of licensing the software to prepare the ballots, it will cost the county less to have the external vendor prepare and mail them than to do the job in-house, Neill said.
“We’ll give it (using an outside vendor) a shot and see what happens,” she said.