SYRACUSE -- It doesn't look like this community will rush to embrace a vote by mail program this election season, even if the county subsidizes the effort in a bid to improve voter turnout.
During a recent city council meeting, residents and election officials spent more than an hour discussing the merits of adopting a vote-by-mail system, which some say could increase turnouts from the 9 and 18 percent in the past two elections to as much as 50 or even 60 percent.
The decision regarding which option to pursue is left up to the city's election official, City Recorder Cassie Brown, according to city code, said City Attorney Will Carlson.
However, he said Brown would probably not go against the wishes of the council.
A straw poll during the meeting seemed to lean toward leaving the existing system in place and not taking on the vote-by-mail approach.
"I don't like that we've even had this conversation. It's not our decision. Cassie is not going to go against our decision," said Councilman Doug Peterson.
Mayor Jamie Nagle suggested some opposition against a vote-by-mail approach this election may have uprooted following a blog by Councilwoman Karianne Lisonbee.
Nagle worries whether a majority of citizens were being heard. She also worries about potentially blocking an initiative that could improve turnout levels.
"I do believe a 9 percent voter turnout is shameful," Nagle said.
Lisonbee said her blog presented both sides of the argument and that she heard from more than the small usual group of people on the issue.
Voting by mail is already available to voters who want that, she said, adding that the decision on what voting method is used should be left up to citizens.
During a public hearing, most residents spoke against changing the city's existing system. Fraud and costs were two of the big reasons cited.
The costs of voting by mail are projected to be almost double what city officials are paying, but Davis County has offered to subsidize the difference if the city uses voting by mail this election cycle.
A Davis County official also pointed out that county election officials have systems in place to deal with potential election fraud.