OGDEN -- Weber County election officials recently changed several of the polling locations, moving away from schools and including more churches of various denominations.
"We want to make sure we have facilities that are accessible and bring in enough poll workers," said Weber County Elections Director Jennifer Morrell. "We're excited. We're just hoping we are prepared to handle the turnout."
The Weber County Board of Commissioners approved the list of polling places, including 57 primary locations and 28 alternative locations, during its weekly Tuesday morning meeting in the Commission Chambers of the Weber Center at 2380 Washington Blvd., Ogden.
According to state law, all polling locations, including alternative locations, have to be approved by Aug. 8.
"I was impressed with the thought that was put into it," Weber County Commissioner Kerry Gibson said.
For June's primary elections, only about 20 percent of eligible voters in the county cast a ballot. That number is expected to more than triple on Tuesday, Nov. 6, during the general election.
Voter turnout tends to increase for general elections -- especially during presidential races -- but with a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints running for the highest office in the land, the Weber County elections office knows it needs to have plenty of polling locations to accommodate all of the voters.
Anytime polling locations are changed, however, voters are inconvenienced. Voters prefer to cast their ballots in the same place every time.
"Our goal really is continuity," Morrell said. "We know that it is really important to the voter."
However, the county wants to find locations that will handle the increase in voters. That increase, and the continued reliance on schools as polling places, worried Morrell.
At most schools, voters have to use cafeterias or libraries, which interferes with school schedules. Many people pass through the school all day without supervision.
"That concerns me as a parent, because our schools have taken so many precautions. On Election Day we are just letting people wander through our schools," Morrell said.
Not all schools will be removed as polling locations, but the elections office decided that alternatives would be better.
Elections officials needed to find buildings that are handicap-accessible, offer plenty of parking, and have a reliable power supply and Internet access.
After examining different options, the office included churches and LDS meeting houses in the list of polling places.
Morrell knows it is going to be a sensitive area and said the elections office is not taking it lightly.
Morrell said she understands that anytime religion is mixed with government, there will be controversy, but the elections office is trying to involve different denominations.
The office pored over maps and took field trips to survey the area in person.
"We were really thorough before we made a change," Morrell said. "We examined every option."
For those who do not want to vote in a religious building, there will be voting centers, early voting and vote by mail options. With a high voter turnout expected, county officials recommend that residents take advantage of early voting and mail-in ballot options if possible.
"I think there are a lot of options," Morrell said, "A lot of choices."
Between now and November, there will be shifts between the primary and alternative voting locations. The final list will be published in the paper closer to Election Day.
For more information, visit www.co.weber.ut.us/Clerk_Auditor/Election/index.php.