Independent Utah voters risk missing Super Tuesday

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — About a third of Utah’s registered voters are at risk of not being able to participate in March’s Super Tuesday presidential primary if they don’t request ballots.

State and county election officials have been sending letters and trying to get the message out before it's too late. This will be the first time Utah takes part in Super Tuesday, where 14 states vote, after state lawmakers moved up the primary to make the state more relevant in the process.

The state's nearly 510,000 independent voters can request a ballot for the Republican or Democratic primary, but the process is slightly different.

The Republican primary is closed, so voters who want to cast a ballot must return to form to become GOP registered voters by Feb. 3.

The Democratic primary is open, so independent voters can get a ballot without registering with the party. They have until Feb. 25 to request the ballot if they intend to remain unaffiliated, but need to send it in by Feb. 3 if they want to become a registered Democrat.

Salt Lake County mailed letters to 210,000 independent voters and had received 7,000 letters back by last week requesting ballots, said County Clerk Sherrie Swensen.

Davis, Weber and Utah counties also sent out letters and have begun receiving responses, county attorneys told the Deseret News.

Utah County Elections Director Rozan Mitchell said the county is aiming to make sure young voters are aware of what they need to do as well, noting that letters are great for older generations but not as much for younger voters.

“We are looking for ways to make things more mobile and tech friendly and make it appeal to a different demographic of voters,” Mitchell said.

Moving up the primary was a smart move that should lead to increased participation, said Utah Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown.

“As party chair, everything we do is to get a higher turnout,” Brown said.