Riverdale unanimously approves voting by mail for this year's municipal elections

May 18 2013 - 11:43pm

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Mayor Bruce Burrows
Councilman Norm Searle
Mayor Bruce Burrows
Councilman Norm Searle

RIVERDALE -- City officials hope voting by mail will increase election turnout.

The Riverdale City Council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with Weber County to administer municipal elections by mail this year.

Mayor Bruce Burrows and Alan Arnold and Norm Searle's four-year city council seats will be on the ballot this year. Candidates can file June 3-7.

City Administrator Larry Hansen said he recommended approval "in the interest of broader participation of voters."

Hansen said voter participation with absentee ballots, which can be mailed in, has been 80 percent. By comparison, participation at the polls can be as low as 25 percent. "If you look at it in terms of voter participation, it is a no-brainer."

Councilman Michael Staten said he would likely put more research into his voting if he could study the ballot at home and mail it in.

"I am cautiously optimistic. It is worth a try," he said.

Searle, however, said there is no way to guarantee the person marking and mailing a ballot is indeed the registered voter it was intended for. "It's a little concerning."

City Recorder Ember Herrick said signatures on mail-in ballots will be optically scanned to determine a match with signatures on file with the Utah Division of Motor Vehicles. If a signature doesn't match, the voter will have to come in to verify the ballot.

The process will mean slower results to allow time for verification, Herrick said.

Burrows said that because his signature on his driver's license was signed electronically, it likely won't match his hard-copy signature. "That never looks like my real signature."

The agreement included a cost to administer the elections not to exceed $12,504.

Because the city budgeted $15,000 for this year's election, Hansen said, there may be room for a cost savings.

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