ST. GEORGE – Whether it’s in this Tuesday’s primary election or the November general election, the opportunity to vote tends to bring on questions about where to cast the ballot and who exactly is eligible to vote. Even after finding out where to go, questions related to voter rights may not arise until someone is actually at the polls.
For example, did you know that you have the right to take time off from work to vote? Or that you can use alternative forms of identification to vote if you don’t have a driver’s license? Additionally, if you applied for an absentee ballot but didn’t mail it in yet, you can still vote, but you must bring the ballot with you to the polls.
These are just a few of the most commonly asked questions. A detailed list of voter rights – including more information on those mentioned above – is featured below.
Where to find polling locations
Voters who have chosen to forgo voting by mail can find their precinct-specific polling locations at the Vote Utah website. The polls are typically are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Some locations permit early voting, allowing voters to cast their ballots during business hours in the days leading up to the election.
It should be noted that while Iron County has become a vote-by-mail county, those who wish to vote in-person must bring in their by-mail ballot and submit it to the poll workers.
Iron County offers three locations for in-person voting for the June 26 primary election:
- Cedar Cedar Council Chambers | 10 N. Main, Cedar City.
- Enoch City Council Chambers | 900 E. Midvalley Road, Enoch.
- Iron County Courthouse | 68 S. 100 East, Parowan.
Iron County voters may also drop off their ballots at the Paragonah and Kanarraville town offices, but no polls are provided at either location. Those mailing in their ballots must have them postmarked no later than Monday, June 25.
Polling locations in Washington County and the rest of the state can be found at the Vote Utah website.
Who can vote in the primary election?
The upcoming primary election is for Republican voters in Iron and Washington counties. The GOP is the only party in southwest Utah with multiple candidates seeking their party’s nominations for various positions. The Democratic and other political parties have already solidified which candidates will run in the November election.
The Republican party holds closed primaries, meaning only registered Republicans (for at least 30 days prior to the election) may vote in the June 26 primary election. Conversely, when primaries are necessary, the Democratic party holds open primaries in which any registered voter can participate.
Valid forms of identification
Title 20A of the Utah code covers the laws governing voting. For the intrepid soul who wants to read the code in-depth, here is the link to the section in question. For the rest of us, we’ve provided the following highlights:
Utah requires valid identification to vote. The most common form of ID is a driver’s license, but if you don’t have one, the following forms of ID are also acceptable:
- A valid ID card issued by the state or a branch, department or agency of the U.S.
- A valid Utah permit to carry a concealed weapon.
- A valid U.S. passport.
- A valid tribal ID card, whether or not the card includes a photograph of the voter.
Two forms of ID that display the voter’s name and provide evidence that the voter resides in the voting precinct are also acceptable. Additional forms of ID are available, which can be reviewed in this document prepared by St. George News.
Worker voting rights
- State law allows an employee the right to take two hours off work to vote. An employer who violates this right is subject to a class B misdemeanor.
- No employer/corporation may influence an employee’s vote or restrain an employee from voting in any way. Parties guilty of this act are subject to a class B misdemeanor.
- No person may intimidate or unduly influence another to vote, or not to vote, under any threats or infliction of force, restraint, violence, injury, damage, harm or loss. Persons or groups engaged in this behavior will be subject to a class B misdemeanor, along with any additional charges that may apply.
Absentee ballot holders
If not mailed yet, absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Monday, June 25, the day before the election.
In Iron County, you may drop off your ballot during Election Day voting or to your City Recorder’s office during office hours into the provided locked ballot boxes. You may also drop off your ballot off at the Iron County Clerk’s Office at 68 S 100 East, Parowan, between 8 a.m and 5 p.m. Monday.
If you wish to vote in-person at a voting location, take your absentee ballot with you to your polling place, and the poll worker will cancel the absentee ballot and then allow you to cast your votes at the poll.
You will not be allowed to cast your votes on the absentee ballot and deposit it with the poll worker. You will not be allowed to vote at the poll if you applied for an absentee ballot unless you bring it with you to the polls for cancellation.
Challenges to voters and provisional ballots
If your right to vote is challenged for any reason, insist on completing a provisional ballot right there at the polls. The provisional ballot procedure for the poll workers and for you subsequent to completing a provisional ballot is itemized in the election code.
Voters may also wish to review potential challenges to their eligibility at time of voting.
If a voter “spoils” a ballot by making a mistake of some kind – marking the wrong candidate, for example – the voter has the right to obtain a new ballot.
Though the majority of voting is done electronically, mistakes may still occur on provisional ballots. It is completely within a voter’s right to ask for a new ballot if he or she feels the original ballot has been rendered invalid.
During the 2016 general election, Tanya Reid, a Washington County resident who had planned to mail in her ballot, said she marked the wrong name while explaining election issues to one of her children.
Reid went to the county clerk’s office to retrieve a new ballot and was told the machines that scan absentee and provisional ballots work in a way similar to Scantron test forms. If there is “too much carbon” on the form or if it is stained with coffee or another substance, the ballot will not scan properly.
When in doubt as to whether a ballot will scan, get a new one.
Still in line when the poll closes? Not a problem
If a voter should happen to be in line to vote at closing time, or arrives at closing, he or she is still eligible to vote at that time under the law.
Prohibited activities at polling locations
- Electioneering: any oral, printed or written attempt to persuade persons to refrain from voting or to vote for or vote against any candidate or issue.
- A person may not, within a polling place or in any public area within 150 feet of the building where a polling place is located, engage in elements of electioneering.
- Engaging in any practice that interferes with the freedom of voters to vote or disrupts the administration of the polling place.
- A person may not obstruct the doors or entries to a building in which a polling place is located or prevent free access to and from any polling place.
Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
For a complete list of prohibited activities at the polling place, see Utah Code 20A-3-501.
Utah’s full code related to election law can be found on the Utah Legislature website.
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