BRIGHAM CITY — For a ghost town, Yost sure wants a say in the upcoming election.
The voting precinct in the northwestern Box Elder village had 22 registered voters for June’s primary. An amazing 78 percent of them voted, giving Yost the distinction of having the highest voter participation in the county.
And that’s for a community described on Wikipedia as a “ghost town.”
County Clerk Marla Young expects the same hefty results for the upcoming general election. In precincts like Yost, where all votes are by mail, the percentage of voter participation has hit the high 90s, she said.
Yost is one of 14 precincts in the sprawling county that offer only mail-in ballots.
Young believes that number of mail-in-only precincts is higher than any other county in Utah.
And, she said, voters who mail in their ballots seem to be more diligent than those who can drive to a polling place.
Since the mail-in ballots were delivered last week, “droves are coming back in every day,” she said.
For instance, compare Yost’s 78 percent voting participation during the primary to, say, Willard — where 17 percent voted in the primary. Countywide, the average was less than 25 percent.
“It’s always like that,” Young said. “They (mail-in precincts) are usually at least 10, 20, sometimes 30 percent higher on percentages.”
Voter turnout is also greater in these smaller communities, she added, “because it gives them a voice, especially in a big election. Their vote can make a difference.”
The mail-in-ballot precincts — 14 of 59 precincts throughout Box Elder County and affecting about 2,000 voters — stretch from Park Valley to Promontory to Snowville, nearly to the Idaho border.
The largest mail-in-only precincts are in Garland and Riverside, each with about 350 voters.
Box Elder’s long distances between towns is one reason so many precincts require mail-in ballots. In these smaller towns, it’s difficult to find poll workers — or buildings with wheelchair access.
Young is surprised by the large numbers of absentee ballots that have been requested by voters throughout the county. This year, nearly 4,000 such ballots went out, up from only 400 in the 2010 election.
Young credits the higher numbers of absentee voters to a desire by residents to make the whole process easier.
“They like to not have the pressure of people waiting behind them in line at the polls, and they like the convenience of the ballot coming to their homes,” she said.
“They say they make a more informed choice.”
Throughout Utah, the deadline to register to vote — either online or at a county office — is Oct. 22.
Absentee ballots can be requested from county clerk offices through Nov. 2; returned ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 5, the day before the election.