Conducting elections is one of those functions in which the county, acting as a representative or subdivision of Utah state government, provides a distinctly federal and state service on a local level. The county clerk is responsible for conducting not only county elections, but the election of state and federal officers, as well as state initiatives and similar issue elections. County clerks are not responsible for conducting elections for municipalities or districts; some do, however, pursuant to an interlocal agreement.
In performing these functions, the county clerk’s powers and responsibilities are set out by state statute and the county has little or no authority to change, influence, or add to that process through county ordinance, action of the Commission or other governing body or officer, or by other means.
The Utah Election Code Title 20a contains all the provisions for procedures used to conduct General Elections. The election process begins with voter registration (determining who is eligible to vote). Citizens of the United States, over age 18 (by election day), who have resided in Utah for at least 30 days (including 30 day residence within a county, legislative district or other similar district, for county or district office) are eligible.
Nominations of candidates is controlled by political parties and their own procedures. Political parties will nominate someone for election, however, individuals may file as an independent or as a write-in candidate. Candidates must then file a declaration of candidacy with the county clerk. There are specific qualifications each candidate must meet in order to be added as official candidates.
Another county clerk duty is to ensure notice is properly given of elections, this also includes voting instructions, and an official Register of Voters (a record that contains specific information about each voter). They also designate polling locations, voting materials and equipment, hire and train poll workers.
Early voting (two weeks prior to election day) is fairly recent addition to Utah’s election scene as is same-day registration. Vote by mail also being tested and implemented in several jurisdictions across the state. There is even discussion among State leaders of Internet voting at some point in the future.
General elections are held the first Tuesday after the first Monday each November. Primary elections are held on the fourth Tuesday in June on even numbered years. Special elections may be called by the county legislative body (commission or council) and are held on either the primary or general election day. State law requires that the nature of the special election must be for one or more of the following:
- Issuing bonds
- City Incorporation
- Change in form of county government
- Special sales taxes
- School program voted leeway tax
- Creation of a new school district
- Budget revisions under the Uniform Fiscal Procedures Act
- Create of local districts