Utah’s unaffiliated voters need to act quickly to participate in Super Tuesday

More than one of every three Utah voters — 619,000 of them — are unaffiliated with any political party. They may not receive a by-mail ballot for the quickly approaching Super Tuesday presidential primary on March 3 unless they take some action soon.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen sent letters to unaffiliated voters this week warning that they will not receive by-mail ballots unless they do one of three things.

If they want to vote by mail in the Republican primary, its party rules require that they register as members of the GOP by Feb. 3. President Donald Trump faces only token opposition from six other lesser-known Republicans in Utah’s primary.

If unaffiliated voters want to vote in the far more competitive Democratic primary, they have two options. They could affiliate as Democrats by Feb. 3. Or, because Democrats allow unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in their primary, such voters may merely request a Democratic ballot by Feb. 25 without formally affiliating.

Swensen enclosed a form in her letters to allow voters to take any step they choose. Justin Lee, state elections director for Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, said other counties are sending out similar letters.

Lee notes that people who want to check how they are registered — or change it, or even register for the first time — may do so online at vote.utah.gov.

Of course, unaffiliated voters who fail to act by deadlines could still vote in person on March 3 by taking one of the same three steps at voting locations.

“We prefer, however, that they do try to get their ballot by mail,” Swensen said. “There are about 212,000 unaffiliated voters in Salt Lake County. It would be a mess if they all show up to polling locations instead of voting by mail.”

A mess is exactly what occurred with the last presidential primaries in 2016. County clerks did not run that election. Instead, the Republican and Democratic parties chose to run it themselves with volunteers at their normal political caucus meetings.

Some voters waited in lines that stretched multiple city blocks, and many gave up and went home. Some polling locations ran out of ballots. An attempt by the Republican Party to allow some of its voters to cast ballots online did not work properly. Other locations ran out of parking, so the elderly or disabled complained they could not vote.

©2019 by Washington County Democratic Party of Utah.