Early turnout appeared just so-so | ParkRecord.com

Early turnout appeared just so-so

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Voters were continuously filing into Park City’s two polling locations through midmorning on Election Day, with poll workers reporting early turnout was all right, but not spectacular, for a City Hall election.

Poll workers at the Marsac Building and at the Eccles Center said voters were arriving at a decent clip on Tuesday morning. At the Marsac Building, where people who live in Old Town and Deer Valley vote, 90 people had voted through 10 a.m. At the Eccles Center, where people who live in the rest of the city vote, 254 people had cast ballots by 10:20 a.m.

Added to the number of people who made their selections during the early-voting period, 654 voters had cast ballots by midmorning. The 654 represent 12.1 percent of the registered voters in Park City who were eligible to vote on Tuesday.

Many Park City voters typically do not go to the polls until the after-work hours, meaning that the turnout percentage could increase significantly by the time the polls closed at 8 p.m. In the September primary, with just the mayor’s office on the ballot, 16 percent of the voters cast ballots.

Ruth Gezelius, a longtime poll worker assigned to the Marsac Building on Tuesday, said the early numbers there pointed to a turnout of 15 percent of the eligible voters in Old Town and Deer Valley. Two people were waiting to vote when the polling location opened at 7 a.m., she said.

"There’s a flow, but the turnout is low," Gezelius said early on Election Day. "It’s a little higher than the primary, but it’s still low turnout."

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She said turnout typically suffers in City Hall elections since they are held in odd-numbered years when there are not national or state candidates on the ballot.

Park City voters were deciding whether to give Mayor Dana Williams a third four-year term or return his predecessor, Brad Olch, to City Hall’s top office. Mark Blue, Alex Butwinski, Cindy Matsumoto and John Stafsholt were vying for two Park City Council seats that were on the ballot on Tuesday. Neither of the two incumbent City Councilors — Roger Harlan and Jim Hier — sought re-election.

The Eccles Center in the middle of the morning, meanwhile, was busier than the Marsac Building. People in most Park City neighborhoods, including densely populated Prospector and Park Meadows, vote at the Eccles Center.

Emily Elliott, a poll worker assigned to the Eccles Center, said the polling location was busier than it was during the September primary. A poll worker for eight years, Elliott said turnout on Tuesday was "steady."

"I think people really are having an interest in this election . . . There are more people involved," she said. "It has not been nearly as busy, unless it’s a presidential election."

Elliott suspects the sunny, unusually warm weather brought more people to the polls early in the day.

"Nice weather always helps," she said.

Some of the candidates and their supporters staked out highly visible locations along roads like Kearns Boulevard on Tuesday morning, waving to drivers as they passed and holding up campaign signs.