OGDEN — Weber County residents will soon be able to do the thing that’s been the central topic of debate all across the country — vote.
Weber County Elections Office officials dropped the mail-in ballots off with U.S. Postal Service authorities on Monday and they started going out to the public on Tuesday, per guidelines spelled out in state law. They should start reaching Weber County residents’ mailboxes through the rest of the week, as in most of Utah.
The presidential race between Donald Trump, seeking his second term, and Joe Biden is easily getting the lion’s share of media attention this cycle. But it’s not the only race Weber County voters will weigh-in on. Also on the ballot in Weber County are two Utah Senate races, seven Utah House contests and a handful of county contests, including the race for a Weber County Commission post. Voters in western Weber County will vote on a ballot measure that proposes creation of a new city in the unincorporated expanse.
Whatever the spur, Ryan Cowley, head of the Weber County Elections Office, expects voters to return ballots in record numbers. Around 122,000 of them are going out, representing the number of active registered voters in Weber County, and he expects record turnout this cycle, surpassing the 85.7% turnout in 2016, the last presidential election year.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states are bolstering mail-in balloting to minimize person-to-person contact at polling places, thus guarding against the spread of the ailment. That’s prompted concerns among some, notably Trump, who worry the results won’t stand scrutiny.
Cowley and the heads of Weber County’s Republican and Democratic parties, though, reiterated their confidence in the integrity of the mail-in system. Weber County is conducting mail-in balloting for the 13th time this cycle and it’s become the most common way to vote here.
“Very confident in our Weber County elections staff. They run good, fair elections,” said Lacy Richards, chairperson of the Weber County Republican Party. “I think people who have used it before are very comfortable with it. They like it.”
The speed of delivery for those returning their mail-in ballots via the U.S. Postal Service has also been a point of concern for some. If so concerned, though, Cowley and Richards recommend returning ballots to ballot drop boxes managed by the Weber County Elections Office at the municipal buildings and public libraries scattered around the county. Find a listing of the locations on the elections office website, weberelections.com. Postage isn’t required and elections office personnel, working in pairs, will periodically retrieve ballots placed in drop boxes.
Cowley advises those who can to mail-in their ballots or place them in drop boxes as opposed to using the drive-thru facility on Election Day, Nov. 3, at the Weber County Fairgrounds. That’s meant chiefly for those who don’t get their ballots via mail. At the fairgrounds site, ballots will be printed for eligible voters, who will then be directed to fill them out in their cars.
Zach Thomas, chairperson of the Weber County Democratic Party, said half the ballots cast in Weber County elections are typically turned in during the first week after ballots are mailed to voters. The Democratic hopefuls, though, will keep up the campaigning to reach those still deciding. “Up until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, we’ll just be going really hard, trying to get everyone to vote,” he said.
If you don’t get a ballot by Oct. 20, the elections office recommends verifying whether you’re registered to vote online at vote.utah.gov, managed by the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office. Those with questions may also call the elections office at 801-399-8036. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 23.