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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

Adventures Of A Mail-in Ballot: From Your Hand To Final Tally

Davis County Clerk Curtis Koch said so far they’ve received about 50% of the ballots they sent out.
Emily Means
Davis County Clerk Curtis Koch said the county has around 192,000 registered voters — the most they’ve ever had. As of Friday, they had processed nearly 60% of ballots.

The Davis County Clerk’s office was buzzing with less than a week to go before Election Day.

“We’ve got a lot of things going on right now,” said Curtis Koch, the county clerk, as he walked past a box of donuts and squirted hand sanitizer into his palms.

Koch said he has hired around 30 people to process ballots at the county elections center in Farmington. The room is full of whirring machines and bins stuffed with ballots.

One of the first steps is verifying voter signatures.

“We may have up to five or six different signatures that the person has provided through the [Division of Motor Vehicles] or voter registration forms,” Koch said. “That’s what we’re comparing against. If it’s a match, great, then it moves on. If it’s not, then we elevate it to more senior staff. They’re going to do some more checks.”

If the signatures still don’t match, staff will reach out to the voter to confirm it’s their ballot.

After that, the forms get separated from envelopes and scanned, and that data is uploaded onto a secure server. Koch said ballots stay completely secret through the whole process.

“If somebody says, ‘Curtis, can you track down my ballot because I want to change [it]?’ No, I can’t,” he said. “Once it’s verified that it’s been cast by an eligible voter, it goes into a batch and it’s done.”

Clerks will keep counting them until the results are certified two weeks later — as long as they were postmarked by the day before the election. During the 2016 general election, Koch said his office rejected around 250 ballots that were postmarked late.

“Some people might think, well, it's Monday, Nov. 2. I'm going to go drop [my ballot] in a post office box,” he said. “The problem is that post office box has already been picked up for the day, and so it's going to be postmarked the next day. At that point, I have to reject the ballot.”

Election drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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