Election results will depend on voters’ vigilance
October 24, 2008
Three longtime Park City voters ran into an unexpected obstacle when they tried to cast early ballots at the library this week according to the poll worker’s computer, they had already voted. They had not and they were incensed.
The experience confirmed their worst fears that Summit County’s new electronic voting machines might be unreliable and, worse yet, that nationwide reports of voting irregularities could threaten the outcome of next month’s election.
Their lack of confidence in the process is understandable. The hanging chad debacle in Florida in 2000 combined with the discrepancy between the results from the popular vote (that would have given the presidency to Senator Al Gore) and the Electoral College (that gave the win to George W. Bush) shook our faith too.
But those concerns are all the more reason to be vigilant as we go to the polls over the next two weeks.
According to Mark Thomas of the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s office, which oversees all of the state’s elections, election officials are committed to making sure every eligible citizen gets to vote and that every one of those votes is counted.
There are several ways you can help to achieve that.
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If there is a problem with your registration, you can ask for and fill out a provisional ballot. If you have moved to a new jurisdiction but have not yet re-registered, Thomas suggests going to your new precinct with a driver license or two pieces of mail to verify your new address and filling out a provisional ballot. It is illegal, he says, to vote in your old precinct.
County clerks have up to two weeks after Election Day to verify those ballots before the results become official. According to Thomas, every absentee and provisional ballot will be counted.
If there is a problem with the machine you are using or if you believe it is displaying the wrong ballot, alert a poll worker immediately.
There are also strict laws about trying to influence voters at the polls, so no matter how fervently you support a particular candidate, leave the flashing button and neon T-shirt at home. Campaign signs cannot be placed within 150 feet of a voting location and it is absolutely illegal to offer anyone anything of value in exchange for their vote. If you see or experience any violations of state law, report them immediately to a poll worker, the Summit County clerk or the lieutenant governor’s office. Voting problems can also be reported to the Lieutenant Governor’s hotline 1-800-995-VOTE.
According to Thomas, more than 10,000 votes have been cast in Utah already. He is encouraging citizens to continue voting early, if possible. Poll workers are expecting to be swamped on Election Day and, due to the number of offices up for election this year, voters will need a little extra time to complete their ballots. That could mean long lines on Nov. 4.
Summit County voters can vote Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 31 at any of the following locations: The Park City Library, Room 207, Kamas City Hall, the Summit County Courthouse in Coalville and the Sheldon Richins Building at Kimball Junction.