Salt Lake County clerk clears up voter confusion heading into Tuesday's primary election

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 00:53:44-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY — Utah voters will head to the polls on Tuesday for the primary election (unless they voted by mail).

It made for a busy Monday afternoon for poll workers and election officials at the Salt Lake County Election Management Center ahead of the big day. The center is where mail-in ballots are processed after being received from voters.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said the poll workers spent the day sifting through the ballots and getting them ready to tabulate so that they will have some results Tuesday night after the polls close.

Swensen said so far, voter turnout for this primary election is on par with years past, but lower than what they saw in 2020.

"As of Friday, we can go on how many ballots we had up to that point in time and it was about 28 percent," Swensen said. "And we're thinking that we may hit 40 percent when it's all said and done."

Swensen said the office fielded plenty of inquiries from unaffiliated voters this time around, who might be a little confused with how the process works in the primary election versus the general election in November.

"For people to vote a Republican primary ballot, they have to be affiliated with the Republican Party. They have a closed primary," she said.

That's not the same for a Democratic ballot, however.

"It's what they call an open primary, and they allow voters of any party to participate in their primary," Swensen said. "But there's only primaries in the Democratic party in three state senate districts."

She says unaffiliated voters can affiliate with either the Republican or Democratic party and vote on either party's ballot in-person at one of the county's 27 vote centers on Tuesday.

"[Unaffiliated voters] are used to having a ballot automatically mailed to them, and they will in the November general election," Swensen said. "But for a primary where it's really a nomination process for parties to select their candidates, it's different."

Swensen said there are about 600,000 eligible voters in Salt Lake County, and she expects more than 95 percent of the votes for Tuesday's primary election to be cast by mail.

"If they're going to return their ballot by mail, it needs to be postmarked, which means they would need to walk it into their post office and have them put a postmark on it," she said.

Swensen told FOX 13 News that people can also utilize one of the county's 24 drop boxes for their ballot.

All mail-in ballots can be returned either through a ballot drop box or at a vote center on Election Day, no later than 8 p.m.

As for those who choose to vote in-person on Tuesday, vote centers will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Following the election, two weeks of canvassing will take place. Swensen said the election will be certified July 12.

More information and a statewide list of vote centers and drop boxes ahead of Tuesday's primary election can be found at

Salt Lake County residents can also call the Salt Lake County election division at 385-468-7400.