SALT LAKE CITY — 2020 has officially become the highest turnout for a presidential primary in Utah history.
A record-breaking number people cast ballots on Super Tuesday in Utah. As of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Utah Lt. Governor's Office reported more than 479,771 ballots had been cast in the presidential primaries.
Active voter turnout was 32.5% — beating the previous all-time record of 32%.
BREAKING NEWS: Per @ElectionsUtah, 2020 has officially become the highest turnout for a presidential primary in Utah history! 32.5% active voter turnout and 479,771 votes (and counting)! @fox13 #utpol pic.twitter.com/6DutT4jV4j
— Ben Winslow (@BenWinslow) March 4, 2020
The vast majority of votes were still for the Republican primary, even though President Trump faced little competition.
"For our first Super Tuesday, for our first vote-by-mail presidential primary, really the first vote-by-mail primary we’ve had in the state, these are very encouraging numbers," said Justin Lee, the state elections director.
Utah broke from the traditional caucus last year and moved its presidential primary up to join other states on Super Tuesday thanks to a bill run by Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, and Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo. The bill was run after complaints that Utah was an "afterthought" for presidential candidates.
This year, the candidates spent significant amounts of money campaigning here. They also visited. Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren made stops as they courted voters.
"People are really happy because Utah is a player," Rep. Arent said in an interview with FOX 13 on Tuesday. "Candidates are coming here, they’re paying attention to Utah. There’s a little frustration from those who voted early. I’d like to see ranked choice voting in the future to solve that problem."
County clerks reported some complaints that as candidates like Klobuchar and Buttigieg dropped out, voters couldn't get a "do-over" on their ballot. Rep. Arent, who is retiring from the legislature, said she would support ranked choice voting in the future.
Right now, voters pick one candidate. Under a ranked choice system, voters would rank them from "first to worst."
By the way, Utah participated in Super Tuesday once before. In 2008, Utah was a part of the Western States Primary, which happened to align with Super Tuesday for what became "Tsunami Tuesday." At the time, Mitt Romney was on the ballot for the presidential race.