On February 3, the City Council unanimously voted to authorize the 2015 Primary and General Municipal Elections to be conducted using vote by mail, a system where all residents vote using absentee ballots. Cedar Hills will be the first city in Utah County to conduct an all vote-by-mail election. Last year, ten counties in Utah conducted elections entirely by mail. According to a press release issued by the Lieutenant Governor’s office in 2014, these counties “increased the percentage of their voters who cast a ballot before Election Day to 49 percent.” In 2013, nineteen Utah cities and towns conducted completely absentee ballot elections, and each one saw an increase in voter turnout, with fifteen of those cities also recognizing a reduction in election costs. Conducting all vote-by-mail elections will create an easy, accessible method for each registered voter to cast a ballot. For those who would rather submit their vote in person, there will be a ballot box at the city office before and on Election Day.
Over the years there have been several mechanisms put in place to ensure the integrity of a ballot sent via mail. Every voter’s signature is compared to the signature in the State voter database, return envelopes are designed to be secure and are kept in a locked box until Election Day, and as with in-person voting, two election workers review the ballots and tally forms. An added bonus is that voters generally receive their ballots four weeks prior to the election, giving more time to research candidates and issues and to make better informed votes.
More information will be provided to residents on how to vote by mail and what to expect for the upcoming election. We are excited to move in this direction and to spearhead the vote-by-mail effort in Utah County.
– Jenney Rees