St. George moves to mail-in ballots for upcoming municipal election

ST. GEORGE — Following in the footsteps of the county and a neighboring municipality, the city of St. George is moving to a voting-by-mail system for the primary and November elections this year.

A mail-in ballot gets turned in at the dropbox at the Washington County Administration Building, St. George, Utah, November, 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“Washington County saw an increase in voter participation when they conducted their 2018 general election in a by-mail election process,” St. George City Recorder Christina Fernandez said in a press release issued last week. “I feel this process will continue to encourage increased participation in our municipal elections.”

St. George joins Washington County and Washington City in moving to a voting-by-mail system. Both the county and the city made the change last year and have credited the switch with helping produce higher voter participation in 2018 than in previous years.

While there were several state ballot initiatives and congressional races that brought out voters last year, moving to mail-in ballots is believed to have played a part in what county officials called a “historic increase” in voter turnout last November.

At the time, the county saw a turnout of nearly 79% for the midterm election, a substantial increase compared to the 2014 midterm’s turnout of 45%.

Whether there will be a significant impact on municipal elections as a result of voting-by-mail will be determined later this year. In the last round of municipal elections in 2017, St. George voter turnout was recorded at 20.6%.

Read more: County officials say mail-in ballots contributed to ‘huge and historic increase’ in turnout

In addition to increasing voter turnout, local and state officials have said having people vote by mail gives them more time to research the candidates whose names appear on the ballot.

The mail-in ballot dropbox at the Washington County Administration Building, St. George, Utah, November, 2016 | File photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“Being allowed to get that ballot a few weeks before the election allows them to carefully review all of the candidates and the issues that are in the ballot,” Mark Thomas, former director of the Utah Elections Office, said previously.

Read more: Mail-in ballots growing in popularity with voters – 2016

St. George has three City Council seats up for grabs this election with a total of 13 candidates in the running for them. Candidates include returning challengers Gregg McArthur and Bryan Thiriot, as well as husband and wife team Greg and Carol Aldred.

Other candidates include Christopher Call, Doug Solstad, Dannielle Larkin, Shane Wood, Lane Ronnow and Chuck Goode. Incumbents Bette Arial, Ed Baca and Jimmie Hughes are all running for reelection.

Ballots for registered voters will be sent out between July 23-29 ahead of the Aug. 13 primary election.

Ballot submission methods include:

  • Mailing to the County Clerk’s office. The ballot must be postmarked or otherwise marked as received by the post office no later than one day prior to the election.
  • Dropping off at a vote center on the day of the election.
  • Visiting drop boxes at the St. George or Santa Clara branch of the Washington County Library or the Washington County Administration Building.

You can also still vote in person at the following locations:

  • Santa Clara Branch Library – 1099 Lava Flow Drive.
  • Washington County Administrative Building – 197 East Tabernacle Street.
  • Dixie Convention Center – 1835 S. Convention Center Drive.
  • South Mountain Community Church – 3158 E. 2000 South.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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