Today is Election Day in Utah, but it is pretty boring in much of the state. Utah has an interesting combination of party caucuses and primaries. If one candidate does not get a super-majority of delegates at the party convention, there is a primary election. In my precinct, the only election is a Republican primary for Sheriff. I live in the 4-square blocks of liberalism in Utah (ok, it is bigger, but not much) and when I walked into the precinct near my home at 8:00 am, I got to watch the first voter of the day cast a ballot, one hour after the election started.
The poll workers were very happy about the training they had received from Salt Lake County and thought that the in-precinct polling place materials were very helpful in ensuring that the polls were set up correctly. The workers said that the key was just to follow the directions and do things slowly and it worked out perfect. At the second precinct I visited, at the Catholic Church we attend, the election was again boring but the workers were having no problems. One machine was down, but the county technical rover was on his was to fix it.
I will be blogging throughout the day with Erin Peterson, who is my research assistant. Here was her experience in Davis County this morning. Davis County, like many Utah counties, is one which does not contain even a consolidated 4-square acres of liberalism. Not that this mattered particularly to the ten or so people who turned out to vote as polls opened this morning as the biggest issue on the ballot was a bond vote. After parking in a mud puddle, I was able to squeeze sideways through a doorway marked wheelchair accessible, and snap a couple of pictures in a polling local set up in the only local coffee shop before being quarantined by concerned poll workers until they could contact a supervisor who granted me permission to stay. I spoke with the technician responsible for sixteen polling sites in Davis County. He told me that while some sites had trouble getting all their machines up before polls opened at 7:00 only one machine had actually malfunctioned. It had difficulties with its printer, but was quickly fixed. Another group of poll workers, this time a group which decided to allow me to chat and snap pictures, perhaps just for company in the empty basketball gym, told me that they had some trouble finding their mismarked polling location, and wondered if low turnout was due to the fact that the precinct’s voters were also trying to get into the elementary school kitty-corner to the gym where the machines were actually set up.
We have visited a set of precincts in Salt Lake County and it has been quite boring as well. The polls were set up without a hitch, poll workers thought they received excellent training, and the machines are all working in the precincts we visited (1 machine down out of more than 40 machines seen). It will be interesting to see how well the polls close down tonight.