Election coverage roundup 02

Poll worker Celestia Frei, of Provo, opens the ballot slot for Allison Fagnant, of Springville, to drop off her completed ballot at the Springville Civic Center as part of the municipal primary election held Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Though Utah voters need to have their ballots mailed in or dropped off by Tuesday at 8 p.m., election officials say it could take days or even weeks for official results to be released.

The delay in results is due to changes made by the Utah State Legislature to the Republican primary election process in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those changes, according to Utah County Elections Director Rozan Mitchell, is that county election officials must quarantine paper ballots for at least 24 hours “to make sure that they’re virus-free.”

“So it is very likely that it could be 2-3 weeks before we know who won the governor’s race,” Mitchell said in an interview Monday.

Mitchell said Utah County would release its first batch of election results at 10 p.m. Tuesday and would put out results periodically throughout the three-week canvassing period.

Utah County voters can either submit their ballots by mail or by dropping them off at one of a number of curbside ballot drop boxes throughout the county.

Those who haven’t received a ballot as of Tuesday can get one at one of four outdoor ballot pickup locations: Brigham Young University’s LaVell Edwards Stadium; Alpine Tabernacle in American Fork; Spanish Fork Fairgrounds; and Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs.

“And it’s important that we say that those are ballot pickup locations, because they’re not voting locations,” said Mitchell about the drive-up locations. “The Legislature made that very clear when they passed House Bill 3006 that we could have no in-person voting.”

Voter turnout for Utah County was at about 28% on Friday, according to Mitchell, who added that she expected that number to increase significantly on Tuesday.

“I’m expecting that we’ll be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50%-60% voter turnout,” the elections director said.

What will be on Utah County’s ballot?Governor’s raceThe most prominent race on this year’s ballot is the one to replace Gov. Gary Herbert, who is not seeking reelection.

There are four Republican candidates vying to replace Herbert in the crowded GOP primary: Lt. Gov Spencer Cox, who has been at the forefront of Utah’s COVID-19 response as head of the state coronavirus task force; former Gov. Jon Huntsman, Jr., who also served as United States Ambassador to China under President Barack Obama and Ambassador to Russia under President Donald Trump; former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes; and former Utah Republican Party Chair Thomas Wright.

Republican Spanish Fork Sen. Deidre Henderson is running as Cox’s running mate while Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi is running with Huntsman. Wright selected former 1st Congressional District Republican Rep. Rob Bishop as his running mate while Washington County Commission Chair Victor Iverson is running alongside Hughes.

A Utah Policy and KUTV poll from June 22 shows a tight race between Cox, Huntsman and Hughes. Out of 1,188 likely voters surveyed, 34% said they would vote for Cox while 30% said Huntsman. Just over a quarter said they would vote for Hughes while 10% said Wright. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.9%.

Hughes performed best among strong conservatives while Cox was the more popular candidate among moderate Republicans, according to the poll. More than half of moderate voters said they would vote for Huntsman.

The winner of Tuesday’s primary will face off against Democratic candidate Chris Peterson, a business law professor at the University of Utah.

Attorney General’s raceIncumbent Attorney General Sean Reyes is running against Utah County Attorney David Leavitt on Tuesday in the race to be Utah’s top prosecutor.

The two Republican attorneys exchanged jabs in a heated debate earlier this month, with Leavitt criticizing Reyes for “a lack of supervision of county attorneys” and Reyes calling his opponent an “emperor” for wanting to “tell and dictate to the county attorneys what they would do.”

Both as a candidate for attorney general and as head of the Utah County Attorney’s Office, Leavitt has advocated for criminal justice reform and shifting the state away from a reliance on plea bargains as an alternative to jury trials.

“The one power that the founders never gave government was the power to decide someone’s guilt or innocence, to take away their liberty,” Leavitt said during the June 2 debate. “They reserved that power to themselves through the jury trial.”

Reyes called Leavitt’s position “quixotic” and said taking every case to trial was “economically out of the realm of reality.”

The winner Tuesday will compete in November against Democratic candidate Greg Skordas and Libertarian candidate Rudy Bautista, who are both Salt Lake-based attorneys.

4th Congressional District raceUtah Republican voters will choose Tuesday which of four GOP candidates will go on to compete against the only Democratic member of Utah’s congressional delegation, Rep. Ben McAdams.

The 4th Congressional District candidates include state Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan; former NFL player and Second Chance 4 Youth founder Burgess Owens; entrepreneur and venturecapital.org CEO Trent Christensen; and former KSL NewsRadio pundit Jay “JayMac” McFarland.

Each candidate has made their case for why they have the best shot at beating incumbent McAdams, a moderate Democrat who has worked across the aisle during his first term in Congress but has been criticized by his challengers for voting in December to impeach the president.

Coleman cited her experience in the Legislature and commitment to “the (conservative) values of my community and my constituents” while Christensen said he was the only candidate with experience in the private sector that could help the country recover from an economic downturn.

Owens said he would fight against the “enemy” that is “socialism and Marxism” and advocate for fiscally and socially conservative policies that “are good for all of our country.” McFarland, meanwhile, described himself as the least partisan candidate and the most likely to work and communicate with Democrats in Washington.

Coleman and Owens were the winners of the Utah Republican Party’s April convention with 54.5% and 45.5% of respective votes after six rounds of ranked choice voting. McFarland and Christensen both qualified for the primary by gathering signatures.

Coleman has the endorsement of former Rep. Mia Love, who held the 4th District seat before McAdams.

State House racesA number of incumbent state lawmakers were forced into primaries through signature-gathering or during the Utah County Republican Party convention.

Orem Rep. Keven Stratton, who has represented House District 48 since 2012, will compete against business owner and state and county delegate David Shallenberger. Stratton received 42.3% of delegate votes during the county convention while Shallenberger received 57.7.%.

Rep. Kay Christofferson, R-Lehi, is running against conservative activist Merillee Boyack, who defeated Christofferson during the county convention with 62.4% of votes. Christofferson qualified for the primary by gathering signatures. Boyack led a push in February to have Lehi declare itself a “sanctuary city for the unborn.”

Provo Rep. Marsha Judkins, who sponsored a bill this year to require prosecutors and county jails to track data on race, gender and ethnicity, will compete against Kenneth Grover, whose twin brother, Sen. Keith Grover, R-Provo, previously held the House District 61 seat. Judkins advanced in the convention with 68.3% of votes while Grover, former principal of Innovations Early College High School in Salt Lake City, qualified through the signature-gathering process.

In the House District 66 race, retired Utah National Guard general and acting director of the Utah Department of Health Jefferson Burton will compete against Woodland Hills City Council member Kari Malkovich. Incumbent Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, withdrew his candidacy for reelection in March.

State Senate raceLongtime Provo Sen. Curt Bramble will compete against state and county delegate Sylvia Andrew in the Senate District 16 race. Andrew said she would fight to reduce government spending while encouraging increased investment in education while Bramble said he would continue efforts to tackle statewide tax reform.

Bramble received 58.3% of delegate votes at the state convention while Andrew received 41.7%.

County racesThe biggest countywide contest is the race for Utah County Commission Seat C, which is currently held by Commissioner Nathan Ivie, the first openly gay Republican to hold elected office in Utah.

Ivie, who along with Commissioner Tanner Ainge voted in December to increase the county-collected portion of property taxes by 67.4%, will compete against former Marine Tom Sakievich.

Sakievich has criticized Ivie’s vote to raise property taxes and said there are other ways to address the county’s budget deficits. Ivie defended the increase, which he said was necessary to fund essential government services.

In January, Ivie voted in favor of a resolution to let residents vote in November whether Utah County should change from a three-member commission to a mayor-council form of government.

Sakievich ran against Ainge in 2018 and was defeated in the primary.

In the Utah County Recorder race, Chief Deputy Recorder Andrea Allen is running against Brian Voeks, who is Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee’s senior policy advisor. Utah County Recorder Jeff Smith is not running for reelection.

Alyson Williams and Randy Boothe are both running for the Utah State School Board District 13 seat.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.