The 2014 Primary Election is over and it was a success.
You may ask how do I judge whether an election was a success or not? It’s not by which candidates won, or really what percentage of voters turned out. It’s whether the voters in Tooele County had an opportunity to cast their ballot, the machines worked correctly, the judges didn’t have any problems, and the machine audit showed the machines counted correctly. Since all of those things did happen, that’s a successful election.
As Tooele County Clerk, my job is to make sure the election is run honestly and fairly, that voters have every opportunity to cast their ballot and to make sure the tally is correct.
The election night tally is checked a second time as we run the machine audit. Each of the serial numbers for the machines used in the election are sent to the Lt. Governor’s Office on Election Day. An Excel program randomly picks machines for us to audit. Once the audit is performed (we had two machines to audit this year and it turned out correctly) the election is over — almost.
A canvass of the election is held 7-14 days after the election. Any provisional ballots from election day (we have 76) and any ballots that come into the office after the election and qualify, are counted and added to the total. That report will then go before the county commissioners for approval and then the election is closed out.
I won’t kid you. I had hoped for a higher voter turnout; 11.10 percent is extremely low, even for a primary election in Tooele County. In 2010, the last time a primary election was held for county offices, there was a 12.3 percent turnout and in 2012 for the Presidential Primary Election there was a 17.69 percent turnout.
So what brings voters out? In my years with the county, I have never seen an election as contentious as this one. Usually that is what brings voters to the polls, but not in this case. I don’t doubt that our citizens are very patriotic and care about Tooele County. I’ve met you, worked with you, Heavens, I’ve grown up with many of you. So I am perplexed about how to get you out to vote. If you have any ideas or suggestions that would get more citizens voting, please let me know.
One brilliant idea was given to me by Jerry Vera, then a candidate for Grantsville City Council. He suggested that I put “Vote Today” signs around the county to remind people that it was election day. And so we do. The night before every election, my marvelous husband and I go around the main roads in the county and put up red and white “Vote Today” signs to remind voters as they go to and from work that today is election day.
The emergency management department also programs its signs to remind you to vote. These are great ideas that I believe have helped. I wear “I Voted” stickers from the beginning of Early Voting until the election is over to remind people everywhere I go that they should vote. My office staff does the same. I even put stickers on my beautiful grandbabies (they usually get more attention than I do.).
Whether your candidate won in the primary election or not, thank you for voting. If you have any questions, comments, or ideas, please call me at 435-843-3148 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marilyn K. Gillette is the Tooele County Clerk