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Voting goes virtual

Prior to the Primary Elections on June 26, the Summit County Clerk’s Office is unveiling a slew of online features to make registering to vote, finding a polling location or previewing the ballot even easier.

According to Summit County Deputy Clerk Ryan Cowley, anyone who has a current Utah driver’s license can register to vote online, change their registration information or request an absentee ballot. Residents can also download a voter app to their smart phones or tablets that uses their current location to locate the proper polling place and give them directions.

"If someone is in college, or away, they can just go online to request an absentee ballot and even track its delivery," Cowley said. "It makes the process a lot easier and may encourage residents to get absentee ballots and vote."

Cowley added, online features also make the voting process easier for the clerk’s office. If a voter has to update his or her information on Election Day, a provisional ballot must be used. However, if a voter changes the information online prior to Election Day, it will take less time at the polls and save the clerk’s office additional paperwork.

"The primaries especially can get confusing because people sometimes don’t know what will be on the Republican or Democratic ballot," Cowley said. "So if they go online ahead of time, they can see how they are registered and view a sample ballot from whichever party they are registered with."

Unaffiliated voters can view the Democratic and Republican ballots online and decide which one they would like to use on Election Day. In order to receive a Republican ballot, unaffiliated voters must register as Republicans at the polls. The deadline has already passed for residents registered as a Democrat or Constitutional Party member to change their affiliation.

"People can view the candidates and bonds they will be voting for and have time to think about it before they get to the polls," he said. "Sometimes the language that goes with a bond proposal can be lengthy and people like to have extra time to read it over and think about it."

On the primary ballot, North Summit residents will vote on whether to authorize an $8.5 million bond to construct a North Summit Recreation Center, which will raise property taxes. Cowley said the full language and an explanation of the bond are posted online.

"The language is pretty clear, but it may help for people to see it ahead of time and be able to ask North Summit Recreation if they have any questions about it prior to voting," he said.

Prior to the November General Election, Cowley said he does not expect any new online features to be added. Instead, the clerk’s office will update and refine what they already have.

"There are not very many other counties or states that are implementing smart phone features like this," he said. "And while it is against state law to vote online, we want people to be able to do as much as possible."

To view a sample ballot or download a Summit County voting app, visit http://www.summitcounty.org/clerk.

Residents who would like to vote in the primary election must register to vote in person or online by June 11. Early voting begins June 12 and will last until June 22. Primary Election Day is June 26.


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