By Kristen O’Brien and Linda Petersen
For Holladay voters, it seems the 2015 election may be vote by mail only. The city council has voted to go to a mail-in ballot system for this year’s municipal elections in November.
This could save about $5,000 over ballot box elections for Holladay City, according to City Manager Randy Fitts.
For the first time, this year Salt Lake County is offering this option to municipalities.
But rather than encouraging cities to go the mail-in ballot route, county election officials are just trying to educate the cities on two options open to them: mail-in ballots and consolidated voting locations, Salt Lake County Elections Clerk Sherrie Swenson said.
In 2002, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act which provided federal funding to the states to help them upgrade their voting systems. Salt Lake County received $10 million which it used to purchase 7,500 electronic voting machines in 2005.
But the lifespan of such technology is very limited, and those machines are on their way to obsolescence, which could be a factor when considering the options.
Swenson confirmed that the machines may be outdated in the future,
“They don’t make them anymore, but we’ve acquired the parts and are trying to extend their life. We’ve also upgraded our software. So we feel confident we can use them through 2020,” she said.
“Will voting by mail help extend the life of the machines by less wear and tear on them? Yes, but that is not our primary focus here,” she added.
Voter turnout, typically higher in Holladay than other Utah cities, is projected to increase even more with a vote by mail-only system. The 2015 general election will have three Holladay City Council seats on the ballot for Council Districts Two, Four and Five.