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Provo Municipal Council approves vote by mail

By Genelle Pugmire daily Herald - | Mar 21, 2017

Provo residents will be voting by mail for this year’s primary and general elections.

The Municipal Council on Tuesday approved, in a 6-1 vote, to contract with the Utah County Elections Office to handle the city’s vote-by-mail elections. Councilman George Stewart was the only one opposed to the vote-by-mail process.

Vote by mail is the only form the county is using this year. It needed to know the city’s decision by April 3.

Utah County officials held a meeting last month for all recorders/clerks in the county on the issue.

Given the interest and push towards a vote-by-mail election, the county opted to administer that type of election for any city that contracts with them.

Such cities will be able to administer only one type of election, so the electronic voting machines will not be available this year, according to Cliff Strachan, executive director of the Provo council.

“I’m in favor of vote by mail,” said Councilwoman Kim Santiago. “I like the flexibility. I can take my time. Being able to take your time (to study) makes for an informed decision. It is the way to go.”

Since the first discussion on the vote-by-mail option, the costs have been reduced and have the potential of going lower if other cities opt to go with the county. The revised costs, if anticipated cities participate, would be $147,300 to go with the county, $166,400 with just the cities that have already confirmed and $166,800 if Provo chose to go with the optical scans.

The county anticipates American Fork and Pleasant Grove will participate but have yet to indicate it. Springville is also discussing a move to vote by mail.

Councilman David Harding said he will miss the feel of meeting people at the voting locations.

“I think there’s value in a community casting votes together,” Harding said. “It’s sad to see that era slip away.”

The administration recommended contracting with Utah County for a vote-by-mail election. Over the past few weeks the administration conducted a vote-by-mail survey. Of the 2,000 who responded approximately 80 percent were in favor of the vote-by-mail process.

Strachan noted that vote by mail is the national trend and it looks like the county wants to go that direction as well.

“I think we should vote online. I’d like to see Provo lead on that,” said Council Chair David Sewell. “Now, I approve of vote by mail.”

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