Officials: Fair turnout so far for election, but more need to vote early

Oct 30 2012 - 9:56am

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Jessica Fridberg checks in for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
People stand in line for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
People stand in line for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
People check in for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
Jessica Fridberg checks in for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
People stand in line for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
People stand in line for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)
People check in for early voting at the Weber Center in Ogden on Monday, October 29, 2012.  (KERA WILLIAMS/ Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- More than 17,000 voters in Davis County have already visited the polls and cast ballots this election season.

Another 8,800 voters in Weber County have also cast ballots early.

But officials say, for Election Day lines to be bearable, early voting needs to pick up.

"It's a good amount," Davis County Election Coordinator Pat Beckstead said of the 17,030 who had voted in Davis County as of Saturday.

But the numbers must improve during this second week of early voting if the county is to top the 44,000 voters who cast an early ballot in the 2008 presidential election, which captured 77.2 percent of the county's total vote.

Adding to the importance of getting more people out to vote early is that, since 2008, Davis County has roughly 13,000 more registered voters, giving it 158,000 registered voters.

This year, county officials hope to have more than 80 percent of all registered voters cast a ballot, Beckstead said.

Two of the busier early vote polling locations in the county have been at Davis County North Branch Library in Clearfield and the Central Branch Library in Layton.

In Layton, vote totals could be up because of two citywide propositions on the ballot for a west Layton development that is facing some stiff opposition.

In Weber County, particularly Roy, early voting polling locations have been busy, with 8,800 early ballots having been cast, said County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch.

But the numbers still have a way to go before rivaling the 25,883 voters who cast early ballots in the 2008 presidential contest.

"Halfway through early voting, we've only had one-third of the early votes cast that were cast four years ago," Hatch said.

"If this pace doesn't pick up, voters are in for a very busy Election Day."

Weber County has 116,688 active registered voters, which is 9,000 fewer than the county was estimated to have in 2008.

Some Ogden residents taking advantage of the opportunity to vote early Monday included Tom Jensen.

"I got things going on next week," said Jensen, who cast an early ballot at The Weber Center in Ogden.

"This (early voting) is a great thing for me. I just wanted to make sure I voted," he said.

"It's great. I didn't know they had it," said first-time early voter Arlene Green, accompanied by her husband, Keith, who used the Internet to find a polling location.

"I thought it would be nice to avoid the crowds," said Ogden resident Janeen Elkins, who voted early with friend Carol Browning.

Because Elkins can't drive, Browning gave her a ride to the polls.

Others voted early because they are having surgery that might interfere with being able to vote later, while one woman voted Monday to avoid having to vote in a church on Election Day, citing separation of church and state.

And then there was Chase Fridberg, too young to vote, but not too young to collect "I Voted" stickers from his mother and aunt.

"We took advantage of it, because we might not be in town," said Chase's mom, Cassie Fridberg.

Her sister, Jessica Fridberg, said she was uncertain what her schedule might hold and she didn't want to take the chance and miss out on voting.

Early voting concludes at 5 p.m. Friday.

For early vote polling locations, visit vote.utah.gov.

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