Rozan Mitchell would like to clear up one thing: Yes, her office really does look at every signature on returned mail-in ballots and compare them against the signatures on voter registration forms. “People say, ‘Well, you only do a sampling.’ Nope,” Mitchell said, sitting in the Provo headquarters of the Utah County elections office in early September. She is the county’s elections director and, as she’s making clear, she takes that responsibility seriously. “We check the signature on every single one of those ballots that comes through here.” That’s how the county discovers instances where, say, a parent has voted for a missionary serving abroad, or a spouse has voted for someone away on business. “I think people don’t realize the great lengths we go to to do things like that,” Mitchell said. Supervising elections, a function of county clerks and their staff, is a process very much driven by local entities: states, counties and municipalities. The federal government has laws mandating equal access to the ballot box, but it’s up to local governments to decide how to achieve that goal.Full Article: New threats, new solutions: How Utah's counties secure elections | KSL.com.
Articles about voting issues in Utah.
Overseas voters from Utah County, Utah, have the option to cast ballots in local elections this year via a mobile app that uses blockchain encryption to transmit votes back to officials. Utah County plans to offer active-duty military and their dependents, as well as other expats, the ability to participate in upcoming elections using Voatz, the same app that has been tested in recent elections in West Virginia and Denver. Amelia Powers Gardner, Utah County’s recently elected clerk and auditor, said she was interested in testing out the technology shortly after taking office in January and encountering the dilapidated state of the county’s elections infrastructure. “I came into a county that hadn’t had any updates in the election department since 2005 and had no updates in the software or process for a decade,” Gardner told StateScoop. “My number one priority was to get elections up to speed. We started looking for any way to do that.”Full Article: Blockchain-encrypted mobile voting comes to Utah.
Utah: Utah County pilot project will let LDS missionaries and overseas military vote using their phones | Taylor Stevens/The Salt Lake Tribune
Religious missionaries and active-duty military personnel will get to vote using their smartphones — some already have — as part of a pilot project during this year’s election for municipal offices in Utah County. Around 58 voters will be able take advantage of the program in the primary, estimates Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers. It’s an innovation she and other leaders hope will make it easier for overseas voters and for the state’s second-largest county to process their ballots. “It’s not a ton [of people] but it is enough that it helps with efficiency and manpower,” Powers said. “Even one voter overseas deserves to be able to cast their ballot anonymously and safely.” Members of the military and others living abroad have traditionally had to rely on absentee paper ballots. Now, eligible voters will be able to opt in to vote electronically when filling out their absentee ballot request and can cast their ballots through the Voatz app after completing their identity authentication.Full Article: Utah County pilot project will let LDS missionaries and overseas military vote using their phones - The Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah: Election officials working to thwart cyberattacks like those detailed in Mueller report | Deseret News
While questions continue to resonate after last week’s release of the Mueller report, one of the few undisputed conclusions in the epic document was that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections “in sweeping and systematic fashion.” And special counsel Robert Mueller’s team unveiled new allegations about how Russian intelligence group GRU targeted the country’s election apparatus — even down to the level of county election offices — in an attempt to disrupt and manipulate outcomes. Techniques employed by those state actors underscored what continues to be the most vulnerable component of any cybersecurity system — human operators. Utah election officials say the impacts of those intrusion attempts, on their radars long before the Mueller report became public, have elevated the work and money that is going into keeping the state’s own election process free from bad actors. And the process is one that has no end in sight.Full Article: Utah working to thwart cyberattacks like those detailed in Mueller report | Deseret News.
Supporters of a push to create an independent redistricting commission in Utah are steeling themselves for a potential challenge to the ballot initiative that voters narrowly passed into law last year. Leaders of the effort aimed at combatting gerrymandering say they’re staying vigilant amid talk of a possible lawsuit to challenge the voter-approved law, the Deseret News reports. “We’re going to be vigilant. We’re going to be present. And we’re prepared through either a campaign or legal means to defend that,” said Jeff Wright, a Republican who co-chairs the group behind Proposition 4.Full Article: Independent redistricting supporters bracing for challenge | Government | standard.net.
Utah: U.S. Supreme Court orders state of Utah to respond to GOP lawsuit challenging election law | The Salt Lake Tribune
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the state of Utah to respond to an appeal by the Utah Republican Party that seeks to overturn a law allowing candidates to qualify for the ballot by collecting signatures and/or by using the caucus-convention system. The party says the court’s request shows it is taking serious interest in the case and in the argument that the state should not be able to tell the private organization how to select its nominees. The state last month filed a waiver saying it did not plan to respond to the GOP’s petition asking the high court to hear the case unless requested to do so by justices. On Tuesday, the court did just that.Full Article: U.S. Supreme Court orders state of Utah to respond to GOP lawsuit challenging election law - The Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah: Trailing in tight election, Republican Rep. Mia Love sues to stop vote count in Utah | USA Today
Republican U.S. Rep. Mia Love sued Wednesday to halt vote counting in the Utah race where she is trailing her Democratic challenger by a razor-thin margin, saying her campaign must be allowed to issue challenges if they dispute the validity of mail-in ballots. In a contest where “every single vote is crucial,” the Love campaign claimed poll-watchers have seen a few cases where voter signatures on ballots accepted by election workers did not appear to match those on file in Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County. County attorneys pushed back in court documents, arguing state law gives the campaign no right to interrupt the vote count, and letting the campaign question signatures could violate voters’ rights by revealing who they cast their ballots for. Democratic challenger Ben McAdams, meanwhile, said the lawsuit “smacks of desperation,” and elections officials, not candidates, should decide what votes should count.Full Article: Election 2018: Republican Rep. Mia Love sues to stop vote count.
Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) is filing a lawsuit against the Salt Lake County Clerk in a bid to stop the counting of votes until her campaign is allowed to challenge whether signatures on ballot envelopes match those on file, a move that Love’s Democratic opponent said Wednesday “smacks of desperation.” As of Wednesday evening, Love was trailing Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) by 873 votes, or 0.36 percentage point, in the race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District. That margin is narrower than the 6,700 votes by which McAdams was leading Nov. 8. Utah law allows candidates to request a recount when the margin of victory is 0.25 percentage point or less. In the lawsuit, news of which was first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, Love’s campaign argues that the Salt Lake County clerk has allowed poll monitors to observe the ballot-counting process but has denied them the ability to challenge signatures on ballot envelopes. Voting by mail is popular in Utah. In the state’s primary elections earlier this year, 90 percent of ballots were cast by mail.Full Article: Rep. Mia Love sues to halt vote count in Salt Lake County - The Washington Post.
Tammie Nakai lives under a vista of red-rock spires and purple sunrise sky that offers arguably some of the United States’ most breathtaking views. But her home lacks what most of the country considers basic necessities: electric lines and running water. “It’s been that way my whole life, almost 31 years,” she said at the jewelry stand she and her husband run with pride in Monument Valley, a rural community near the Utah-Arizona border where tourists stand in the highway to re-create a famous running scene from “Forest Gump.” As she decides how she’ll cast her ballot, Navajo voters like Nakai could tip the balance of power in their county on Nov. 6. It’s the first general election since a federal judge decided racially gerrymandered districts illegally minimized the voices of Navajo voters who make a slim majority of San Juan County’s population. The county overlaps with the Navajo Nation, where people face huge disparities in health, education and economics. About 40 percent lack running water in their homes.Full Article: Utah Navajos could tip balance after voting-rights battle | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Registered voters say their names vanished from a state-run database. “We had gone online, to my surprise, to find out that I was not registered,” said 21-year-old voter Michael Peterson. Peterson says his mom asked the family to check their registration status online before the upcoming elections, and that’s when they found Michael’s name gone. It came as a shock because Peterson voted two years ago. His initial reaction was to feel like “it really feels unfair and it just doesn’t feel right, everyone should always be included,” Peterson said. In July, Peterson moved across town. He said he went to the DMV to get a new license and chose to keep his voter registration the same. “The information that we had in our database did not match the current address,” said Justin Lee, the Utah director of elections.Full Article: Voters find names no longer registered; state can't explain why | KUTV.
Utah: Mitt Romney’s Senate run makes Utah’s election a target for Russian hackers, lieutenant governor says | The Salt Lake Tribune
Utah’s government systems face “hundreds of millions” of attacks each day from hackers in Russia, China and elsewhere, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said Tuesday. And those attacks are likely to intensify ahead of November’s election, Cox said, as a result of past criticisms of Russia by Mitt Romney, the state’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. “We knew that alone might make us more of a target,” Cox said of Romney’s candidacy. Cox, who oversees elections in Utah, was confident the state’s government websites and voting systems can withstand the attacks. Millions of dollars have gone into updating Utah’s voting machines and cybersecurity protocols, he said, and the transition to a statewide vote-by-mail process decreases the likelihood of fraudulent votes on a mass scale. “We have a paper trail for every vote that is cast in the state,” he said.Full Article: Mitt Romney’s Senate run makes Utah’s election a target for Russian hackers, lieutenant governor says - The Salt Lake Tribune.
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox offered a positive message Tuesday speaking about election security issues — even amid unprecedented levels of hacking attempts, voters can cast their upcoming midterm ballot in confidence that it will be duly and fairly tallied. “We would encourage Utah voters to know that we’re on the front lines fighting this battle for you,” Cox said. “Know that this election is secure and you can be sure that your vote will count.” Cox, whose oversight of state elections is part of his duties as lieutenant governor, outlined the millions in new state funding and federal assistance that’s been dedicated to beefing up security measures for this election cycle, including the latest in voting machine technology, upgrades to the voter registration database protections and partnerships that have helped bolster the state’s digital resilience to those who would seek to infiltrate and disrupt the election process.Full Article: Cox says Utah election system under fire, but safe from malefactors | Deseret News.
Utah: A county clerk’s deceptive attempt to keep Grayeyes out of the San Juan commission race should lead to criminal charges | The Salt Lake Tribune
Sure, we’ve seen malfeasance in Utah politics — sex scandals, run-of-the-mill corruption, pay-to-play. But I can’t recall ever seeing a public servant conspiring so ruthlessly to deny a Utahn a fundamental constitutional right as we just saw in San Juan County. I’m referring to San Juan County Clerk John David Nielson, who helped falsify and backdate an election complaint and used it to disqualify Democrat Willie Grayeyes from the County Commission race, asserting Grayeyes was ineligible to run because he didn’t live in the county. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer righted the wrong, ordering Grayeyes’ name be put back on the ballot, basing his decision, in part, on the clerk’s deceit.
The Navajo Nation’s Human Rights Commission has filed an election complaint against San Juan County over incidents during the June 26 primary. County officials, in turn, have accused the Navajo Nation of “harassment.” It’s the latest salvo between the two sides in a contentious legal battle over elections in the Four Corners area. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby has ordered a special election for county commission and school board seats after he found racial gerrymandering took place. The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission said it had two poll watchers in Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley, monitoring interactions between voters and poll workers.Full Article: Navajo Nation files election complaint against San Juan Co. over primary races | fox13now.com.
Utah’s Lt. Governor is defending the law that allows voters to remove signatures from a citizen referendum petition. In a new court filing before the Utah Supreme Court, Lt. Governor Spencer Cox pushed back on Count My Vote’s request to strike down a portion of election law dealing with signature removal. Count My Vote, which would allow political candidates to gather signatures and skip the caucus-convention system that political parties prefer, failed to qualify for the November ballot after enough voters removed their signatures following an opposition campaign by a rival group called Keep My Voice.Full Article: Lt. Governor asks Utah Supreme Court to keep Count My Vote off the November ballot | fox13now.com.
Utah: Federal judge sides with San Juan County, says it’s been ‘pretty vigorous’ in implementing new voter boundaries that benefit Navajo residents – The Salt Lake Tribune
A federal judge declined Monday to reopen a landmark voting rights case filed by Navajo residents in southeastern Utah, suggesting that San Juan County’s Republican-controlled leadership has led “a pretty vigorous effort” to comply with the redistricting that he ordered last year to reverse the political domination by whites over American Indians there. It’s a surprising dismissal that for now ends the six-year legal battle that has overtaken politics in this remote and rural corner of the state and left lingering bad blood over the ruling. (The county has an appeal still pending.) “I have little doubt that after six years of litigation in this case, there’s not a lot of fond feelings and also some level of distrust,” said U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby. “But this process we’ve been engaged in here [with the request to reopen the case] is not helpful in correcting any of that.”Full Article: Federal judge sides with San Juan County, says it’s been ‘pretty vigorous’ in implementing new voter boundaries that benefit Navajo residents - The Salt Lake Tribune.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, wants to make a drastic change to how legislative vacancies are filled, taking power away from party delegates and giving it to voters. Currently, when a legislator steps down from office, their replacement is determined by a vote of party delegates from their district. Most recently, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, retired and Republican delegates in her district chose Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, as her replacement. Once Grover’s appointment is approved by Gov. Gary Herbert, GOP delegates in his former House district will then get to pick his replacement. Bramble argues it’s time to scrap that replacement method in favor of a special election.Full Article: Utah may move to special elections to fill legislative vacancies.
An initiative to reform Utah’s nominating system failed to make the ballot after opponents convinced nearly 3,000 people to withdraw their name from a petition in support of the measure, election officials said Tuesday. Initiatives on medical marijuana, redistricting and Medicaid expansion did make the ballot, officials announced, making them the first to be decided by Utah voters in 14 years. Tuesday’s result is a victory for defenders of the current political system, but will also heighten questions about the ability to block initiatives from reaching voters. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has spoken out against urging voters to withdraw names from petitions they’ve already signed and said last week the system ought to be rethought.Full Article: Election reform initiative won't make Utah ballot - San Francisco Chronicle.
It’s nail-biting time for supporters and opponents of the four initiative proposals that citizens are trying to place on the 2018 November ballot. Tuesday, May 15, is the deadline for initiative opponents to turn in documents rescinding signatures. After Tuesday, the lieutenant governor’s office will total the number of signatures verified, the number of signatures rescinded, and will determine which initiatives qualify for the ballot. That likely won’t end the controversies, however. If passed, the initiatives would institutionalize Count My Vote, fully expand Medicaid, create a commission to propose political district boundaries and allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. The rescind efforts have sparked accusations of deception and even bullying. What is going on here? Supporters and opponents of the initiative efforts are accusing the other of unfair tactics, misleading messaging, false representations, intimidating behavior and other outrageous activities. So the initiative campaigns have devolved into … resembling every political contest for the last 10,000 years of human history.Full Article: How fair is the citizen initiative signature rescission process? | Deseret News.
Utah: ‘We’ve been disenfranchised’: Republicans in San Juan County say redrawn voter districts unfairly favor Navajos | The Salt Lake Tribune
In this rural redrock town where buttes form the boundaries and windmills stand like a picket fence on the horizon, the largely Republican – and primarily white – residents are angry and resentful and frustrated. For more than three decades, they’ve been the dominant political party in this remote desert corner of Utah. For the first time, they’re likely to be overthrown. “I feel like we’ve been disenfranchised,” said Robert Turk, 57. It was the shared sentiment Thursday at the first GOP convention in San Juan County since a federal judge redrew the boundaries to give Navajos, who tend to affiliate as Democrats, a significant majority of voters in two of three commission districts and three of five school board seats. The decision was meant to reverse the historic political domination by whites over American Indians.Full Article: ‘We’ve been disenfranchised’: Republicans in San Juan County say redrawn voter districts unfairly favor Navajos - The Salt Lake Tribune.