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County clerks say community outreach helped Utah run a successful midterm election

The Davis County administrative office in Farmington, Utah, Aug. 20, 2022
Jim Hill
The Davis County administrative office in Farmington, Utah, Aug. 20, 2022

Official canvasses to certify the midterm election took place across Utah on Nov. 22. Per Utah law, results must be certified no later than 14 days after Election Day.

Statewide voter turnout stands at 63% according to the Lt. Governor’s Office. Elections in Utah are run at the county level and after a lot of talk about election security in the run-up to Nov. 8, county clerks were inundated with questions about the process.

A printer issue led to delays in voters receiving their ballots in Carbon and Iron counties, but those clerks and the Lt. Governor’s Office extended in-person voting opportunities and encouraged early voting. After all the votes were counted, turnout ended up at 60% in Carbon County and 59% in Iron County

While this election went off without any other serious issues, some county clerks said this cycle was a lesson in community outreach.

“What is a little bit more new for us is just making sure that we’re better communicating what we do to keep our elections safeguarded,” said Davis County Chief Deputy Clerk Brian McKenzie.

Davis County held monthly town hall meetings about election security this year. McKenzie said the county plans to continue them and other outreach efforts in the future.

“There's always little details that you learn from every election,” he said. “We will be coming back together here in another week. I'll be meeting with my election team, we’ll be going through all of our notes of what went well, what didn't go as well as we had hoped, what can we do for future elections to make sure that we're better prepared and better plan for what comes in future elections.”

Other counties held similar events earlier this year. The Utah County Commission hosted several election verification work sessions with members of the public, and in Summit County, a “day in the life of a ballot” event walked curious voters through the counting process.

When returns were delayed in Summit County due to three write-in candidates and a candidate withdrawal, Clerk Eve Furse said that early community engagement helped keep people calm on election night.

“People in the public, I know they were disappointed and were hoping to get results sooner, but they were actually very patient about it on the whole,” she said. “We were able to get them results early the next morning.”

According to Furse, Summit County will also be continuing its outreach efforts given the interest in the voting process.

“It turns out, there are lots of people who are curious,” said Furse. “They're not necessarily concerned, but they are curious. And so we will continue to make that available to people to come in when it's not an election and be able to sort of walk through it in an informal way. Or there's always, of course, the opportunity to be a poll watcher.”

Municipal elections will be held statewide in 2023.

Sean is KUER’s politics reporter.
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