SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has processed more than one million ballots ahead of Election Day.
Justin Lee, the head of the Utah State Elections Office, reported the number in an interview with FOX 13 on Monday morning.
"We have great turnout so far and great turnout prior to Election Day," he said. "Which is exactly what we wanted to see."
The state's election website reported 1,009,654 ballots processed — which does not include those received by the clerks but not yet processed.
Approximately 1.6 million ballots were mailed out to active registered voters in Utah this year. By comparison, 1.1 million voted in 2016.
The state long been a vote-by-mail state, but officials have been urging Utahns not to vote in person this year because of COVID-19 concerns. The Utah State Legislature expanded drop boxes across the state for people to use and emphasized its vote-by-mail system.
"Utah County told me a little while ago, it was about 60 percent of their ballots coming back in were through drop boxes," Lee said. "The good news is those drop boxes are still available on Election Day."
Some counties will still allow for in-person voting, but it will be limited. Because of novel coronavirus concerns, county clerks have implemented "drive-thru" voting to assist people in voting in-person. They pull in, are handed a ballot to fill out and then drive off. But county clerks have urged people to use their mail-in ballots and drop boxes to avoid long lines on Election Day at drive-thru locations.
Ballots must be postmarked on Monday to count. However, putting a ballot in a drop box is allowed until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
COVID-19 has had an impact on Utah's elections. On Monday, the Summit County Clerk's Office announced it was quarantining its staff because of a "close contact" with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. About 18,000 ballots had been processed up to Oct. 30, county clerk Kent Jones told FOX 13. The county mailed out approximately 28,000 to voters in Summit County.
The outstanding ballots will not be counted until after Election Day when staffers are cleared to return to work. Drop boxes remain open in Summit County and staffers not exposed will be manning the drive-thru voting location there, Jones said.