Summit County Democrats turn out in record numbers | ParkRecord.com

Summit County Democrats turn out in record numbers

Jeff Dempsey and Nan Chalat Noaker, Park Record

As hundreds of caucus-goers on the West Side of Summit County made their way into Ecker Hill Middle School Tuesday night, Summit County Democratic Party Chair Glenn Wright was sure organizers were prepared.

"We are expecting 500 to 1,000 people," he told precinct leaders shortly before the proceedings began.

Wright said they had 1,700 ballots on hand for the Presidential Preference Poll and wouldn’t have an official attendance figure until tomorrow. Registered voters attending Utah’s Democratic caucuses had the opportunity to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

"If we run out of ballots, though, then I guess we’ll know we had more than 1,700."

At 6:40, only 40 minutes into the caucus, they did just that. Wright sent a volunteer out to make more ballots, while the line to get in grew longer. He said he expected to have more ballots in time for the start of the caucusing at 7 p.m.

At 7:30, volunteers returned with 1,000 more ballots, and were greeted with applause by those who had been waiting in line for nearly an hour. As the night wore on, Wright said he was taken aback.

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"We are on track to have somewhere in the neighborhood of four to five times as many people as we’ve ever had for one of these."

It’s a good problem to have, he added.

"If we’d had 1,000 people here tonight I would have been overjoyed," he said, before adding with a laugh, "And we could have handled that many people better, too."

A similar scenario played out at the South Summit Middle School where Democratic caucus organizers were forced to make extra copies of the ballot at the last minute.

According to South Summit Democratic Caucus host Louise Brown, "We printed 200 ballots but it wasn’t enough." A runner was dispatched to print more.

Many attendees said they had never participated in the caucus process before, including Jeff and Tlesa Riehl of Peoa.

"We just feel it is so important this year, said Tlesa.

The South Summit Republicans seemed to have enough ballots for the poll featuring presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich but caucus host Scott Simons readily admitted, "This is a giant overload."

Behind him volunteers were busy registering new voters and handling what he characterized as "cross overs," new Republican voters and those previously registered as Democrats who, he said, now want to align themselves with the Republicans.

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