Utah election results could hold up presidential election decision

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(KUTV) Utah voters are poised to wreak havoc on national election results.

In any other election year, Utah’s vote tallies are fairly easy in comparison to the rest of the nation. Since 1964, Utah has gone red in presidential elections. This year polls show Donald Trump up, with Hillary Clinton and Evan McMullin within striking distance.

With a close race, Utah also happens to be experimenting with the first ever mail-in ballot election in 21 of 29 counties. The mail-in ballot election worked like a charm in the primaries with ballots returned early. This time around, Utah conservatives have been tormented over which way to go. Many have kept their ballots until the last minute, hoping they’d figure out who was best to lead the country.

On election eve Utah State elections report 40 percent of the state has voted through mail in ballots, absentee or early voting. With 564,235 votes in, there are nearly another million yet to come.

If you are reading this on Monday night, and still have your mail-in ballot, do not try to mail it. Election officials are asking that you drop it in an official county ballot box in your area. Those ballots will be collected Monday and again Tuesday by 8 p.m. If you still have it in hand, had it post marked on Monday, Nov. 7, or dropped it off in a ballot box, you should know your vote may not be counted until after election night results are out.

Salt lake County’s ballot teams are working around the clock, but that may not be enough in the end.

“We are now a battle-ground state and people have waited to return ballots. I don’t know how it is going to play out,” said Sherrie Swensen. She has headed up Salt Lake County’s elections for years and has never seen a race like this.

If the race for president remains close, Utah may be the deciding factor, keeping the nation waiting on a winner.

“If it is a close election, people will be camped out here until Thursday when our next release is at 3 p.m.”

Mark Thompson with state elections has seen this coming saying, “a lot of people held on to their ballots,” the more research he did “we learned who they were not going to vote for. They just didn’t know who they would vote for.”

What should have made for a quick and easy election night, with mail in ballots counted and ready, is turning into a nightmare of sorts.

Swensen said, “There will be a lot of ballots not counted tomorrow night, at least more than we typically have in previous elections.” The veteran elections officials said “those ballots that come in tomorrow, we will not get them in election-night returns.”

Thompson, who will be managing returns from across the state, said he tells tell county clerks, “we always have to be prepared in case that days comes, and sure enough that days is here.”

You can track your ballot online at Vote.Utah.gov.

Everyone involved reminds Utahns to vote, even if it takes the full two-week canvassing period, every vote will be counted.

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