Utah County Clerks Are Aiming For More Transparency Around Election Process
There’s been “unprecedented” concern over election security in Utah since the 2020 presidential election, according to several county clerks. They’ve received a slew of phone calls and a mountain of public records requests.
“There haven't been any specific instances in Utah of irregularities that people are acting on,” said Utah County Clerk Josh Daniels. “They're just acting on national sentiment and then applying it locally.”
Daniels recently held a town hall to answer questions about election procedures and show residents how voting machines work.
Although there’s no evidence of widespread fraud, election officials are pushing legislation to try to increase transparency anyway.
About 30% of Utah voter records are classified as private, according to Daniels. Some are private because of extenuating circumstances, like being a survivor of domestic violence, and others are made private by the voter requesting it. So when members of the public request voter rolls to investigate what they believe to be fraud, that data isn’t included. Daniels said that discrepancy doesn’t mean anything illegal is happening.
“That's led to some confusion where people who have theories about election fraud look at the total vote counts in Utah and then they compare it to the voter registration list that they have access to and there seems to be a mismatch,” he said.
To deal with the difference, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would put those private records on public voter rolls. But instead of a name or any identifying information, there would just be a random number.
“This will not solve the concerns of the naysayers,” said Weber County Clerk Ricky Hatch, “because you can never do a one-to-one match in a live voter database where people are constantly dying, moving, changing affiliations [or] registering. It's very hard to match all of those.”
But Hatch said it’s still a worthwhile change because it’ll give some skeptics more comfort that the process is fair and secure.