SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Election Day is a staple of American life, but in at least 10 Utah cities the polls likely will be closed this year because of a lack of people stepping up to challenge incumbents.
In Millville, a town of just under 2,000 people, the City Council voted Thursday to cancel the upcoming November election.
“As long as I have been here, it’s never happened this way,” City Recorder Rose Mary Jones told KUTV news station in Salt Lake City (http://bit.ly/1MLHypl ). She’s been with the city for nearly 33 years.
Three council members are up for re-election there, but no one else entered the races. It’s the first time she could remember that happening.
“I think we’ve always had someone,” she told The Associated Press. Some years, neighbors would have to get together and convince someone to run, but the ballot was full.
Millville resident Julie Hall said that while she’s happy with her local leaders, she’s surprised no one has entered the contest.
“It does seem kind of odd that nobody actually ran,” she said.
Keeping the polls shuttered this year will save the small town between $1,500 and $2,000, Jones said.
Six other cities in Cache County — River Heights, Hyde Park, Amalga, Cornish, Newton and Mendon — have canceled elections or are planning to soon, according to the county clerk’s office.
Three more cities in nearby Weber County also have decided not to hold elections. Sitting office holders went unchallenged in Washington Terrace, Marriott-Slaterville and Uintah.
“It’s just a lack of interest,” said Ricky Hatch, Weber County clerk and auditor. “Maybe they’re happy with the people who are in there or they just aren’t unhappy enough to go out and do it themselves.”
Elsewhere in Utah, Election Day has changed even during contested elections as more cities switch to running them by mail instead of in person, a method that’s grown steadily in recent years.