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.
Love’s campaign is “not accusing anyone of anything,” but they believe a few instances deserve more scrutiny, campaign attorney Robert Harrington said in a statement. Voting is done primarily by mail in Utah.
County Clerk Sherrie Swenson, a Democrat, said Love’s campaign staff was granted access to observe the tallies but is not allowed to be interactive participants in the signature verification process. Results her office released Wednesday night sliced into McAdam’s lead, putting Love less than half a percentage point behind him. Her campaign manager Dave Hansen cheered the news, saying she is on a “path to victory.”
A judge is set to hear arguments on Thursday.