OGDEN — With the 2020 general election less than a month away, the Utah Transit Authority board has approved a plan that will implement free fares across the agency’s entire service when voting day arrives.
On Wednesday afternoon, UTA’s Board of Trustees passed a measure that allows for fare-free transit for all Utahns on Election Day, Nov. 3. Monica Morton, UTA’s fares director, said other transit agencies across the country are instituting similar plans, hoping to drive numbers for this year’s election.
“We want to provide transit access for registered voters,” Morton said, adding that while the measure is pointed at prospective voters, riders won’t have to provide any proof they are traveling to a polling location.
The free fare plan applies to all UTA bus, TRAX and rail service, Morton said, and the agency estimates it will take about a $48,000 loss in fare revenue in implementing the plan.
“It’s an unusual year,” said UTA Trustee Carlton Christensen. “We know other transit agencies have done this (successfully) and certainly it’s a great opportunity to provide everybody access that wants to chose to exercise their vote.”
Morton said with Wednesday’s board approval, UTA staff will begin a public awareness campaign of sorts, letting people know about the plan through several public outreach measures.
“We have a lot of work to do between now and then, but we will start getting the word out,” she said. “I think we’re squared away and ready to start.”
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an increased emphasis will be placed this year on voting by mail, though some live polling locations will still be open on Election Day. To find the polling location nearest you, go to vote.utah.gov. The deadline to register to vote using Utah’s online voter registration system is 5 p.m. Oct. 23, according to the state’s election website.
County clerks are scheduled to mail ballots from October 13-27. According to Weber County’s election website, for voters who receive a by-mail ballot, there is no added benefit to voting in person.
In-person voting will be held at the Weber County Fairgrounds Golden Spike Event Center, 1000 N. 1200 West, Ogden. Due to COVID-19, in-person voters will receive a paper replacement ballot and envelope. Voters will return to their cars, mark their ballot and return the ballot envelope into a drop box as they exit the parking area, according to the county. Voters should be prepared to wait in line and wear a mask.
In Davis County, one drive-thru, in-person voting location will be open. The location hasn’t yet been determined.