Monday, October 20, 2008

Change IS coming to Utah, part deux

In 2006, the Democratic wave lapped at the Wasatch Mountains. This year, the wave of voter enthusiasm is back...and it isn't because people are excited to pull the lever for McCain/Palin or any of the legislators up on Utah's Capitol Hill.
Would-be voters arrived by the thousands, filling out registrations in their front seats while the Clerk's Office moved its operation outdoors to accommodate the last-day crush.
"We have always known it was going to be a high-turnout year," Deputy Clerk Jason Yocom said as prospective voters
Darren Dufield of Salt Lake City fills out a voter's registration form on his motorcycle as he joins the long line of people seeking to sign up to vote Monday at the Salt Lake County Government Center. (Scott Sommerdorf/The Salt Lake Tribune)
jammed roads in and around the government complex near 2100 South and State Street.
Salt Lake County is bracing for big numbers at the polls. The Clerk's Office has registered more than 35,500 new voters since last November, pushing the election rolls past 517,000 people. And that's not counting Monday's registrations.
Similar trends have cropped up elsewhere along the Wasatch Front.
Close to 2,000 people clogged the Utah County Clerk's Office on Monday - so many that phones went unanswered and voice mail maxed out, even with 30 temporary workers on hand.
The county had 181,000 registered voters in February and likely will reach 250,000 after Monday's forms are processed, according to Clerk-Auditor Bryan Thompson. That's a jump of 69,000 voters.
What's striking, Thompson added, is the number of new voters between 18 and 24 years old. Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University turned in a combined 4,600 registrations from campus campaigns.
And, in Davis County, the clerk reports 25,000 more registered voters this year than Election Day 2004.
"We've got lines in the hallway," said Clerk-Auditor Steve Rawlings. "We've never had this much interest in an election in the [18] years that I've been with the county."
Bumper-to-bumper registrations continued through the day in Salt Lake County, where the Clerk's Office projected more than 5,000 voter registrations Monday alone - a single-day surge that officials handled in fast-food fashion with a parking lot drive-through.
I am not saying that Obama has a shot at Utah or that Dems will make big pick ups this year state-wide. But there should be some surprises. One of the most interesting vote locally for me will be the Sevier County coal plant, which the Utah Supreme Court just allowed by striking down a law as unconstitutional.

Will the good people of Sevier County vote with their pocketbooks to create jobs building and operating the coal-fired electricity plant? Or will they vote with their lungs?

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