A misplaced bar code slowed the processing of absentee ballots in Utah County, frustrating campaigns that rely on voting data for 11th hour electioneering. The vendor that printed the county’s absentee ballot envelopes placed the bar code on the outside but under the flap. That means election workers have to open each envelope to scan the code just to check the ballot into the computer system.
Utah County already processes its absentee ballots differently than other counties, said Mark Thomas, state elections director. Most counties start processing their early ballots before Election Day and send lists of those who have voted to the state elections office. The state provides the lists daily to subscribers — typically political campaigns that use them to determine who to target or not target for phone calls and fliers.
“Campaigns in particular live and die by this data,” Thomas said. “They get really frustrated by Utah County because they don’t process them.”
Thomas said he doesn’t see an issue with ballots being properly counted, but the bar-code problem exacerbates the already-slow process in Utah County. Nothing in state law requires counties to check in early ballots as they’re received, he said. The information about who has voted, however, is public and made available to those who request it.