Love Campaign Sues Salt Lake County Clerk, Wants Chance To Challenge Signatures
Updated 6:00 p.m. MST 11/14/18
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday against Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen, Rep. Mia Love is asking a Utah 3rd District Court judge to order the county to stop processing votes and to allow the Congresswoman to analyze and challenge ballot signatures.
Love, a Republican incumbent seeking her third term in Congress, is at risk of losing her 4th Congressional District seat to Democratic challenger Ben McAdams. Their race for Utah’s most tightly contested district has been too close to call since election night.
A new update from Salt Lake County Wednesday afternoon showed Love trailing 49.82 percent to McAdam’s 50.18 percent, a difference of just 873 votes.
The lawsuit cites some 16,300 provisional ballots as well as an unknown number of mail-in ballots that still need to be counted in Salt Lake County. The complaint will be heard Thursday afternoon before 3rd District Court Judge James Gardner in West Jordan.
There are still thousands of uncounted mail-in and provisional ballots in Salt Lake and Utah counties that could determine the outcome.
Robert Harrington, Love’s campaign attorney, said in a statement Wednesday that the complaint is aimed at improving the elections process.
“We have great respect for the critical and at times, complex, ballot counting process,” he said. “As we’ve spent hours observing these efforts, we’ve found a few instances where increased transparency and scrutiny are needed. Let us be clear, we are not accusing anyone of anything.”
The Love campaign seeks the opportunity to review and challenge signatures on mail-in and provisional ballots, “given that even a few mistaken verifications could decide the outcome,” according to the lawsuit.
It also requests that the county stop processing provisional and mail-in ballots until the Love campaign is able to review signatures.
McAdams is in Washington, D.C. this week for the U.S. House of Representatives’ new member orientation. In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, he slammed the Love campaign’s lawsuit.
“It is the job of election officials to decide what votes count, not political candidates,” the Salt Lake County Mayor wrote. “Rep. Love's decision to sue only in SLCo as she continues to trail in this race is unfortunate and smacks of desperation. Utah voters deserve better than this.”
In a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill called the complaint “procedurally and substantively flawed” and said Swensen is in full compliance with state election code.
Salt Lake County includes the majority of voters in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. Love is currently trailing in the county by more than 17,000 votes.