Provo residents flock to in-person voting location

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Editor’s note: As the Nov. 3 election draws near, the Daily Universe is exploring different national and local issues impacting voters in a series of stories.

Provo residents fill out their ballots at the only day-of and in-person voting location in the city on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (Addie Blacker)

Provo residents flocked to the only day-of ballot pick-up location in the city Tuesday evening to take part in the 2020 election.

Dozens of cars were backed up from the location — a meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 945 East and 700 North — as residents waited for a chance to vote in person. At 6 p.m., cars were lined up on 700 North all the way to 1200 East.

Because of a new in-person voting system implemented to combat COVID-19 spread, residents checked in on their phones before receiving a notification saying they were allowed to enter the church building and receive their ballot. Unregistered voters were allowed to register inside the building with proper identification and proof of residency.

Residents then filled out their ballots before turning them into a Utah County Drop Box, one of which was located on the north end of the church parking lot. Some filled their ballots out in their cars while others sat outside on the church lawn or curb to do so.

Dozens of cars trickle into a church meetinghouse parking lot as Provo residents wait for a chance to participate in the 2020 election in person. (Addie Blacker)

The total wait time to check in and receive a ballot varied, but a number of residents at the location said they were in and out under an hour.

“I was able to come in and get out in about 40 minutes,” said James Umphress, a BYU student from Mililani, Hawaii. “It was good. I would expect there to maybe be a better location somewhere in Provo; 9th East is right there but some of these other streets aren’t really designed to hold this much traffic.”

Umphress was one of many BYU students to vote at the in-person location in Provo on Election Day. Umphress did not receive his Hawaii absentee ballot in time to vote from his home state but found out he could vote in Utah as long as he’d lived in the state for at least 30 days.

“I’m glad it worked out,” Umphress said. “It was a little weird trying to familiarize myself on all the Utah issues, since I thought I’d be voting from Hawaii. But it’s been good to find out what issues are important to me here as far as government goes.”

Angela Lamarche, a BYU freshman from Wylie, Texas, also found out Tuesday she could vote from Utah. Lamarche had trouble receiving her absentee ballot as well and was frustrated thinking she wouldn’t be able to vote this year.

BYU student Jonathan Daniels holds a flier from the Utah County Elections Division guiding residents on how to vote in person. (Addie Blacker)

However, after seeing a Daily Universe Instagram story about day-of registering in Utah, Lamarche decided to check it out.

“I was super excited when I found out I could vote today,” Lamarche said. “This is the first election year I’m eligible to vote in, so I was bummed when I thought I wouldn’t be able to. But everything worked out great, I just had to prove I’d lived in the dorms for the past month and I was in and out in less than 30 minutes.”

Lamarche described the experience as “10 out of 10,” pointing out how easy it was to follow directions and make way for the next people in line.

Rebecca Olsen, a recent BYU graduate from Cedar City, Utah, was also complimentary of the city’s in-person voting system. “There were a lot of people willing to direct us to the next point,” Olsen said. “It’s a little crazy, given the current circumstances, but people were really receptive in helping us get to where we needed to go.”

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