The rule in question is 20-7-6 which provides that the clerk responsible for the election print 50 per cent more ballots than the total number of registered voters in the jurisdiction.
In an election in which less than 50 per cent of the registered voters go to the polls – usually the case in primaries and in some other elections, too – the law therefore requires a wasteful overprint.
The current stacks of unused ballots in the County Building at Provo gives the citizen an idea of the waste involved. Multiply this by the number of counties and you get an idea of the over – all problem.
We don’t know exactly what the lawmakers had in mind when they passed the regulation in the first place. One factor apparently was that county clerk estimates for the printi; order must be made on a basis of last year’s list of registered voters inasmuch as lead time for printing doesn’t permit waiting until the pre-election registration of the election year.
It’s good to allow for expanded voter lists and certainly we must be sure there is no ballot shortage. But the 150 per cent printing simply isn’t realistic and doesn’t allow for the voters who traditionally stay away from the polls.
In last Tuesday’s primary, 42 per cent of the registered voters cast ballots – which was good for a primary. In many a Utah primary the vote has been a great deal lower – as low as 20 per cent.
Voter turnouts in general elections – particularly in a presidential year – might run considerably more than in the primary, but seldom would ever approach a hundred per cent.
The Herald suggests legislative leaders study tabulations of past election turnouts as well as future projections, then come up with a more realistic and economical ballot- printing quota than the one now in existence.