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Voters brave the snows

Braving the first persistent snowfall of the season, voters across Summit County on Tuesday headed to the polls, eager as they selected their choices on a packed ballot headlined by the White House hopefuls and also including the inaugural slate of candidates for the Summit County Council.

The snow started by early morning, picked up by noon and was expected to last through Election Day. Voters, though, were entering polling stations at a regular clip through midday. Lines were short in the three polling places inside Park City, including Snow Park Lodge, which was used as a substitute location for Old Town and Deer Valley voters as the Marsac Building is under construction.

"This is probably the most important election in my lifetime. I think there’s so much excitement, nationally, internationally, people will do whatever they can," Mayor Dana Williams said about voters’ willingness to go to the polls in inclement weather.

Williams predicted three out of every four registered voters will cast a ballot. He said voters were "energized" by the presidential campaign.

Through about noon, poll workers in the Park City polling locations reported approximately 800 people had voted on Tuesday. The numbers did not count those who cast their ballots during an early-voting period. Countywide, 7,082 of the 27,255 registered voters cast their votes prior to Election Day.

Outside Snow Park Lodge, college students were polling voters as they left, quizzing them about who they voted for and their opinions of the vice presidential candidates, among about 30 other questions. The students were from seven colleges and universities in Utah, and the results would be used on television after the polls closed and by students and researchers.

"I see some determination . . . I see very few that just wander in," said Russ Thacker, a senior at Brigham Young University who was stationed outside Snow Park Lodge. "They’ve waited so long. They’ve watched so many months of coverage."

Most of the voters the students approached answered the questions, they said.

The election workers easily handled the short lines by midday. Cindy LoPiccolo, City Hall’s election official, called the turnout "steady light."

"People are coming in steadily, but there’s not lines," she said, anticipating larger crowds as people got off work.

There were not reports of confused voters who headed to their traditional polling place at the Marsac Building. A sign outside the construction zone instructed people to Snow Park Lodge.

Jamie Thomas, who lives in Old Town and voted at Snow Park, said he cast votes for Barack Obama and County Council candidates David Ure and John Hanrahan. Thomas said he prefers voting earlier in the day, when lines are normally shorter.

"It’s a good time to avoid the rush, and you get busy. It gets harder and harder as the day goes on," Thomas said.

Lani Vernon, who works in the Summit County Clerk’s Office, the division that manages countywide elections, said the office had received a few calls Tuesday morning from people wondering whether they are registered to vote or where their polling place is located.

"Things seem to be running smoothly," she said.

State liquor stores were closed Tuesday, but establishments like restaurants and clubs could serve liquor, a result of a change in state law. Under the old law, which was changed earlier in 2008, they could not serve until after the polls closed.


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