ST. GEORGE — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came out on top in Utah on Super Tuesday, a victory that was mirrored in both Washington and Iron counties.
According to state election results, the Vermont senator claimed 33% of the state’s Democratic vote in the presidential primary. Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg came in second with 17%, and former U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden was third with 16%.
Sanders’ victory comes a day after he made a campaign stop in Salt Lake City and spoke to the hundreds of people who gathered to see him. Moderate candidates also campaigned hard in Utah, sensing an opportunity to pick up delegates in the open primary that marked the state’s first Super Tuesday vote in more than a decade.
Polls were busy as turnout beat the record of 32% of active voters set in 2009, according to state elections officials.
In Washington County, 22-year Josh Peacock of St. George said he voted for Sanders and believes the U.S. would benefit from the polices the Vermont senator proposes to implement.
“I agree with all of his policies,” Peacock said. “A lot of people think he’s a radical, but there are so many countries – first world countries – that have these policies in place. I just think America needs to catch up.”
Nationally, the high-profile series of primaries in 14 delegate-rich states across the country came as the Democratic centrists lined up behind Biden, who has pitched himself as the best choice to defeat President Donald Trump.
St. George resident Tanner Griffiths, 23, said he felt Sanders was better suited to beat Trump in the general election.
“I feel like he’s the most honest person there and the most capable to handle Trump. I prefer if he made it,” Griffiths said.
In Washington County, an estimated 2,000 people chose to vote in person at the various voting stations set up around the county, according to the Washington County Clerk’s Office. A large amount of ballots for those who chose to vote Democrat were also issued Tuesday.
According to the unofficial numbers, there was a 40% voter turnout for Super Tuesday overall in Washington County, with Republicans showing a 51% turnout and Democrats turning out at 92%.
Washington County Clark/Auditor Kim Hafen said those numbers were somewhat misleading, however, as the Democrats held an open primary that allowed unaffiliated voters to vote for the party’s presidential candidates.
There are approximately 23,000 unaffiliated voters in Washington County.
As with the state, Sanders won Washington County, garnering 1,906 votes to Biden’s 1,807. Bloomberg came in third with 1,654 votes.
On the Republican side, Trump claimed 25,746 votes, with Pete Weld coming in a distant second at 683 votes.
Iron County saw an overall voter turn out of 50%, with Republicans turnout at 46% and Democrats at 81%.
Sanders also took Iron County, with 443 votes to Biden’s 317. Trump garnered 6,692 votes on the Republican side with Pete Weld coming in second with 180 votes.
Hafen said that overall, Super Tuesday ran smoothly in Washington County, though he noted it wasn’t much different from what county staff had been doing for the last three weeks as they took in mail-in ballots and counted them. The only difference this time around was the addition of the voting center ballots, he said.
Hafen also noted that many people seemed to be waiting to the last minute to vote.
When 8 p.m. came around and it was time to lock up the ballot drop boxes, people kept showing up with ballot after ballot, he said, adding that he figured these may have been Democratic voters waiting to see which candidates were still around on Tuesday, given that some of them had dropped out of the race within the last month.
Utah has 29 pledged Democratic delegates. They are awarded on a proportional basis; the allocation wasn’t immediately announced.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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