OGDEN — Staff rolled carts, packed with voting machines, onto a rented delivery truck Monday morning, leaving the Weber County elections offices practically empty, except for poll managers who stopped by to pick up bins of voting supplies, binders and laptops.
The machines and equipment were on their way to their specified polling locations throughout the county, while officials, including Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch and Weber County Elections Director Jennifer Morrell, answered phone calls from voters.
Shortly before dawn this morning, many volunteers got to work preparing the machines in time for voters to cast their ballot.
“There is only so much they can do the night before,” Morrell said. “Everything is sealed.”
About 25 percent of Weber County voted before Election Day, a total of 22,469 early votes and about 5,000 absentee ballots mailed in.
Whether its the emphasis election officials placed on early voting and vote by mail, or Mitt Romney, a Mormon, being at the top of the Republican presidential ticket, nearly 35 percent of Davis County’s registered voters cast their ballots ahead of the 2012 general election.
“I think that is fantastic,” said Terry Tremea, chief deputy of administration in the Davis County Clerk/Auditor’s Office.
The county is up by more than 5,000 early voters this election, Tremea said, compared to where it was in 2008 with the early vote.
In Davis County, 40,636 voters, or about 25 percent of all registered voters, participated in early voting, while an additional 13,673 voters, more than 8 percent, voted by mail, Tremea said.
The combination of those two results in 54,309 of the 157,920 registered voters in Davis County having already cast their ballots.
By comparison, in 2008, 45,000 people participated in early voting, and 4,300 by mail, for a total of 49,300 voters.
“It shows us there is a strong interest in this election,” said Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings.
Based on the early-vote turnout, Rawlings said he anticipates the county having 80 percent of its registered voters cast ballots in this contest.
Early voting ended Friday. Absentee ballots had to be postmarked no later than Monday, Nov. 5.
Today, Weber County expects about 50,000 people to vote.
Weber County voters will have a reminder today of the importance of early voting as they wait in line. Signs in each polling location tell voters how many people are not waiting in line in front of them because of early voting.
In Davis County, the long-term goal is to have one-third of its voters vote early; one-third vote by mail; and one-third vote on Election Day, officials said.
For the majority who waited until today to cast a ballot, Hatch expects the heaviest lines to be in the early morning, during lunchtime and in the afternoon. He said the best time to visit the polls would be between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Polling locations will close their doors at 8 p.m., but those already in line will still be able to vote.
To avoid any problems, Hatch said, voters need to bring proper identification, including a form of ID with their name and photograph, such as a driver’s license, or two forms of identification that have the name of the voter, such as a birth certificate and a Social Security card, and provide evidence of the voter’s residence.
Even after all of the votes are cast and the winners are decided, the election office’s work does not end tonight.
“People are surprised there is so much to do, even in December,” Morrell said.
The county will begin verifying provisional ballots Wednesday, from people who were not sure if they were registered to vote or had not registered in time. Staff will also count mailed-in ballots that arrived late but were postmarked by Nov. 5.
The number of provisional and mail-in ballots is tiny compared to the ballots cast today and during early voting.
“It’s a small percentage,” Morrell said.
The county will also begin the auditing process, choosing 15 to 20 voting machines at random to match the electronic and paper results.
Officials also hope to learn more about the county’s voting process. Hatch said the county will have a debriefing to learn what worked and what did not, to make improvements for the next election.
To find your voting location, visit vote.utah.gov and click on the “find my polling place” link. The link will ask for a name, birth date, house number and county of residence.