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Utah: What You Need to Know to Make Sure Your Vote Counts This November

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Grace Han/Thrillist

While debate over the reliability of mail-in voting roars on across the county, Utah is quietly sending out absentee ballots to every single registered voter. It's one of the few states in that actually prefers mail-in voting, and representatives of the state have been speaking out against claims that it's an unreliable method of voting. 

“Anytime you undermine people’s confidence in election results without fact-based data, you’re actually undermining the integrity of our elections,” Utah County Clerk/Auditor Amelia Powers Gardner told Deseret News in August.

Utah's long-standing support of mail-in voting makes the absentee process simpler, in that it removes a step that is otherwise fairly time sensitive. That doesn't mean you can rest easy until Election Day; Utah voters must be aware of the deadlines for voter registration and absentee ballot submission, so we've put together a list of all the things you need to know to make sure your voice is heard on November 3. Read instructions carefully, review the CDC guidelines for safely navigating the polls, and triple check your registration as soon as humanely possible. Happy voting!

What’s the deadline to register to vote in Utah?

It's possible to register to vote in person at the polls on Election Day. But if you'd like to spend less time at your polling location or skip voting in person entirely, you have tons of remote options available to you. The deadline to register online, in person at the county clerk's office, or by mail is October 23 -- get that registration postmarked earlier than the deadline if you mail it, though, because it needs to be in the office by the 23rd. 

How to register to vote in Utah

As mentioned above, you can register to vote on Election Day at your polling place. ;It's also possible to register online (by 5pm on October 23) if your Utah driver's license matches your current address. Otherwise you'll need to register at your county clerk's office, by either going in person or printing out this form and returning it to the office. If you don’t have a Utah drivers license or state-issued ID, put the last four digits of your social security number in that section of the registration. Then you should be all set. 

Can I vote early? When does early voting start in Utah?

Utah offers no-excuse absentee voting, meaning everyone is allowed to vote early by mail. Aside from that, the in-person early voting period runs from October 20 through October 30, but these dates and hours may vary based on where you're located. Contact your county clerk's office with any questions about where you'll be voting and visit vote.utah.gov for more info.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes! Utah loves mail in voting; the state actually prefers it to the polls. Because of that, the state automatically sends ballots in the mail to all registered voters. 

How to request an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot in Utah

If you're an active registered voter (check whether you are here) an absentee ballot will automatically be sent to the address you put on your voter registration. Your mail-in ballots cannot be forwarded, so triple check that address. The county clerk will send these ballots out between October 13 and October 27. Contact the clerk if you're worried you won't receive the papers in time. 

How to vote absentee by mail in Utah

Once you've received your ballot, it must be filled out, addressed to your county clerk's office, and postmarked by November 2. If you're unable to complete this process in time, your safest bet is dropping the ballot off at your drop box location, polling place, or county clerk's office before 8pm on Election Day. 

Is there a way to track my mail-in ballot? How can I make sure it’s counted?

You can track your mail-in ballot using this online portal
Other than that, be sure to carefully read the ballot instructions and meet the aforementioned deadlines. Also, you should avoid tearing or otherwise damaging your voter materials -- you don't want you ballot to be thrown out on some sort of technicality.

How can I stay safe while voting in person?

Polls are open for in-person voting from 7am to 8pm on Election Day. You can locate your polling place online.

It's important for you to review COVID-19 safety guidelines and plan your trip to your polling location accordingly. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has issued several recommendations for how to keep yourself and others safe while voting in person this November.

Here's a rundown of what the CDC recommends, according to its election guidance page:

  • Wear a mask. 
  • Keep a distance of at least six feet from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands both before and after leaving your polling location.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol frequently throughout your time inside the polling place, especially after you touch things like door hands, voting machines, and other surfaces that lots of other people touch.
  • If you cough or sneeze, cover them with a tissue or the inside of your elbow. Dispose of the tissues in a lined garbage can, then use that 60% alcohol hand sanitizer again. 
  • Don't try to disinfect the voting machine or equipment yourself because you may end up damaging them. This is where hand sanitizer comes in handy. Use it after you touch the voting equipment or any other equipment at your precinct. If you use it before you touch the equipment, make sure your hands have dried before casting your ballot or touching any of the equipment present.
  • Try to vote when your polling place isn't at its busiest. This might involve driving by and checking to see how long the line is or making a plan to vote early in the day.
  • Verify that you're registered to vote before you leave home and make sure you bring any documents you'll need to avoid complications that could result in spending more time inside the polling place.
  • Bring your own black ink pen for marking your ballot, or your own stylus (just check with a polling place worker before you use it). 
  • If possible, fill out a sample ballot at home that you can use to speed up casting your ballot at the polling location. Knowing who you plan on voting for in each race will save you time inside the polling station. 

Additional Utah voting resources

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Ruby Anderson is a News Writer at Thrillist. Send your tips to randerson@thrillist.com.