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Davis Journal

Davis County Commission approves resolution on vote-by-mail

Mar 07, 2024 04:13PM ● By Becky Ginos

DAVIS COUNTY—It’s been 10 years since Davis County started running secure, vote-by-mail elections and the County Commission marked the milestone with a “Resolution of a Proclamation Celebrating 10 Years of Vote by Mail in Davis County” at the last commission meeting. 

“We need to recognize and understand how we got to where we are today,” said County Clerk Brian McKenzie. “It wasn’t something that we just woke up one morning and said, ‘Hey, let’s try this new type of voting and see what happens.’ There was a lot of work that went in, not just in our county but in the state of Utah.”

Pre 2000 in the state of Utah, you had to have an excuse for voting by mail, he said. “That included our military voters, our missionaries and all sorts of others with disabilities. Those were the voters who could request that voting method. They had to have a reason.”

It was in 2004 that the state kind of transitioned to allow a person to just sign up with no excuse, said McKenzie. “What we did see as well was the state allowed for rural elections conducted by mailbox. You could have small jurisdictions of 500 or less and you could allow people to vote by mail that way.”

Then in 2012, some things started changing, he said. “First of all, Duchesne County voted all by mail. They were small enough that they could do that. But the other thing we saw that was really exciting, is we saw both major political parties in the state of Utah really advocate for and push and encourage people to sign up and vote by mail.”

McKenzie said something interesting they saw between the 2010 general election and the 2012 election was the significant increase in participation going up, 1.68% of the voters voted by mail. In 2012 it was 10.34%. So quite a bit of a jump from the efforts of political parties.”

In 2014, Davis County Clerk Steve Rawlings announced that the primary election would be vote-by-mail, he said. “There were a couple of reasons he did that. One is because of increased participation and interest and we were considering replacing our voting equipment. It was a possible option for us that would be less expensive to purchase the supporting infrastructure to conduct those kinds of elections.”

Also, Rawlings wanted to see if it would be a viable option to increase engagement, said McKenzie. “We were very pleased with the results we saw there. In 2015 it was offered to our cities. In our election by mail, half of our cities chose to do that and had a great experience. The other half, many of them wished that they had voted by mail because of the desire for their citizens to engage in the election process through this method.”

In 2020 there was some significant movement across the nation to adopt it, he said. “Utah was in a position where almost every single one of our counties were already conducting a vote-by-mail. It is primarily vital that we also have our voting centers and early voting locations available. We have 15 voting centers in Davis County that are open on election days.”

McKenzie concluded by reading the resolution that read in part, “Whereas Davis County has found that providing multiple methods for citizens to participate in elections has resulted in greater engagement in elections…therefore, we as Davis County government do hereby commemorate 10 years of voting by mail.”