Last year's municipal election was conducted solely by mail in many Utah cities. A UtahPolicy.com survey finds a majority of Utahns would like to have that option for the 2016 general election.
The survey finds more than 3/4 of Utahns (79%) say they either "strongly" or "somewhat support" using vote-by-mail in this year's elections. That includes nearly half (49%) who "strongly" support having that option.
Salt Lake City's mayoral race was the biggest prize in the 2015 municipal elections where Jackie Biskupski ousted two-term incumbent Ralph Becker. Turnout for that race was a whopping 54.6%, which was the highest ever in the city according to election officials. Even though the 2015 municipal elections were billed as vote-by-mail, voters who preferred to cast their ballot in person had that option, but only in a limited number of locations.
That race also exposed a problem in Utah election law, which prohibited the release of updated vote totals until the final canvass two weeks after the election. The results were not certain because of nearly 5,000 outstanding ballots that came in after election day. When the final tally was made known, Biskupski prevailed by 1,194 votes.
Rep. Steve Eliason fixed that problem with HB21, which allows election officials to give daily updates on the vote count as absentee and provisional ballots roll in ahead of the official canvass. That bill passed and was signed by the Governor.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that County Clerk Sherrie Swensen is going to push for more vote-by-mail during the 2016 election this year, a move that could save the county up to $400,000.
Overall, 90 of Utah's cities and municipalities chose the vote-by-mail option in 2015. That came after ten counties opted to use vote-by-mail in 2014. All of those options resulted in a larger percentage of voter turnout.
Salt Lake County officials estimated the switch to vote-by-mail for the 2015 municipal elections resulted in a $63,000 savings across the county.
The survey was conducted by Dan Jones & Associates from December 8-14, 2015 among 622 adult Utahns. It has a margin of error +/- 3.93%.