San Juan County residents set a new record for voter turnout
A remarkable 87 percent of registered voters in San Juan County participated in the November 3 General Election. The 6,761 ballots that were cast represent a 1,215 vote (22 percent) increase over the 2016 General Election, which was a record number at the time.
The results indicate that despite the wide diversity of voting patterns in the county, the majority of local voters generally follow statewide trends, with support for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump and Republican candidates in statewide races.
In San Juan County there were just three contested election results.
In the District 1 County Commission race, Republican incumbent Bruce Adams received 1,817 votes to defeat United Utah Party candidate Monette Clark, who had 470 votes. As a result, Adams earns another four-year term with the support of 79 percent of voters in the district.
In the District 2 San Juan School Board race, incumbent Merri Shumway retained her seat on the board, holding off a write-in campaign by Bret Hosler. Shumway received 637 votes, compared to 510 ballots that had written in Hosler’s name.
The final local contested election was a vote on Proposition #11, which asked if the Bluff Service Area should be dissolved. A total of 116 votes (79 percent) said yes to the dissolution, while 24 voters (16 percent) said no. The functions of the Bluff Service Area will be absorbed by the Town of Bluff.
Among local voters, Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Joe Biden in the race for President of the United States. Trump earned 3,454 local votes, compared to 3,004 for Biden.
The support for candidates varies widely depending upon the area, with strong support for Trump in northern San Juan County and strong support for Biden in southern portions of the county.
For instance, Trump received 83 percent of the 909 votes in Monticello, while Biden received 78 percent of the 1,064 votes cast in the Monument Valley, Mexican Hat and Navajo Mountain areas.
In statewide races the county mirrored the state results, with majority support for Republicans, including Congressman John Curtis (56 percent of the vote), Governor Spencer Cox (53 percent), Attorney General Sean Reyes (52 percent), Auditor John Dougall (69 percent), and Treasurer David Damschen (67 percent).
In the state legislature, both local representatives were reelected in unopposed races, including Republican Representative Phil Lyman and Senator David Hinkins.
Newly elected San Juan County officials include Assessor Rick Meyer and Recorder Cindi Holyoak. They both were unopposed in the general election after securing the Republican nod in a primary election.
In other local races, unopposed incumbents were re-elected, including San Juan County Treasurer Glenis Pearson, and San Juan County Surveyor Sam Cantrell, in addition to school board members Lori Maughan and Steven Black.
Local voters supported judges in the judicial retention elections and supported six of the seven proposed Constitutional Amendments. All judges and amendments passed in the statewide votes.
Over the past four years, the voting rolls have grown by 728 additional eligible voters. Voter registration efforts – in addition to the intense interest in the races – led to a 22 percent increase in the number of voters between the two Presidential elections.
In the 2016 presidential election, 5,546 ballots were cast, which was 78.5 percent of the 7,062 registered voters in the county.
In the 2018 midterm election, 5,566 ballots were cast, which was 75 percent of the 7,460 registered voters in the county.
Ballots were mailed to San Juan County voters beginning on October 3, the earliest in the state. In addition to mail in ballots, early voting locations were available across the county as soon as October 5.
Election day voting was held in Monticello, Montezuma Creek, Monument Valley, and Navajo Mountain. Navajo Nation elections also took place at polling places in the southern area of the county.
Early voting also took place at all the above locations as well as in Bluff and the Navajo chapter houses in Aneth, Red Mesa, and Mexican Water.
Navajo Language assistants were on hand at each election site. The elections were monitored by several organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has settled a voting rights lawsuit with San Juan County. There were no reports of voting irregularities.
Election officials in the San Juan County Clerk’s office released preliminary vote counts on election eve that included 5,307 ballots. The remaining 1,454 ballots were counted and the tallies released on Monday, November 9.
During the interim, the officials received a number of mailed ballots that had been postmarked correctly and worked through several hundred provisional ballots.
San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson reports that the final numbers presented during the upcoming election canvass will likely increase by a very small amount.