KSL Investigators Find Not All Polling Place Rules Are Strictly Enforced

Oct 27, 2020, 11:25 PM | Updated: Oct 28, 2020, 1:39 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In order to keep elections fair and safe, lawmakers and health officials have implemented several rules about what voters can and cannot wear to vote in-person at a polling place. But the KSL Investigators found that the rules are not always enforced as election officials walk a fine line of being rule cops without stifling a voter’s right to cast their ballot.

If you walk into the Salt Lake County Government Center, you’ll immediately get smacked in the face by the rules. Signs everywhere say masks are required and people who enter are required to keep a social distance.

But look around and you’ll find not everyone is following those rules.

“Salt Lake County policy requires masks however, with every requirement, there are exceptions,” said Salt Lake County Chief Deputy Clerk Lannie Chapman.

Chapman said county lawyers have made it clear that poll workers can ask voters to mask up, but they shouldn’t turn people away who refuse. Doing so may violate voting access laws, especially if that person has an unseen medical condition that precludes them from wearing a mask.

“We will not turn them away,” Chapman said. “We will help them vote quickly and leave the premises.”

While the face mask rule may be wishy-washy, there is a rule that is clear: electioneering.

Utah code says that “any oral, printed or written attempt” to influence voters is forbidden. In other words, no political hats, shirts, buttons or anything else is allowed within 150 feet of a polling place.

But the KSL Investigators saw several campaign bumper stickers, hats and t-shirts at the county complex — including one man voting in-person, without a facemask and wearing a hat in support of President Donald Trump. Electioneering was rampant at the polling place.

“We encourage people not to electioneer because that is against the statute,” Chapman said. “However, if somebody does come in with a MAGA hat, with a ‘Yay for Trump,’ or, ‘Yay for Biden’ t-shirt, we will process them just like anyone else.”

That is not the case everywhere in Utah. The KSL Investigators reached out to other county election officials to ask what they will do if somebody showed up wearing election stuff. How aggressively the electioneering rule is enforced may depend on where you live.

In Utah County, a spokesperson said they ask people to remove campaign material, but added the county won’t force the issue.

“If the voter does not want to remove it, we don’t want to create a scene,” said election director Rozan Mitchell. “We would get them processed and out of the facility as quickly as possible.”

Other counties’ responses were more rigid.

Cache County officials told KSL-TV they would not allow people to wear any electioneering gear at a voting center. If it’s a shirt they’re wearing, they’ll be asked to put on a jacket to cover it up. If it’s a button on their jacket or a cap, they’ll be asked to remove it and conceal it before they’ll be allowed to vote.

Washington County officials had the same response. Melanie Abplanalp, who leads their elections team, read KSL-TV the 150 feet rule. She also said people would also be asked to remove that campaign item or cover it up before being allowed to vote.

Abplanalp added the county plans to put up signs outside the voting centers asking people to observe the electioneering law, politely.

Weber County officials simply said they’ll enforce the state electioneering law, while handling the situation with respect for the individual.

One thing election officials agreed on was that no “campaigning” will be allowed at the polls — no signs around the building or honking rallies in the parking lot.

Chapman said someone wearing electioneering material won’t even be allowed to hang out in the public building after they’ve cast their vote.

“If they start to draw too much attention to themselves or start lingering after they’ve already voted, we will help them leave the premises,” she said.

As for masks, all election officials to whom we spoke said their poll workers will be masked up and they’ll encourage voters to also put on masks, but no official would say that a voter would be turned away if they refused to mask up.

KSL 5 TV Live

KSL Investigates

Matt Gephardt looking over the CarShield documents for Scott Dumas....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

West Haven man says extended auto warranty refuses to cover costly engine repair

Many drivers buy an extended auto warranty to help keep their car on the road, but when the extended warranty a West Haven man bought refused to cover replacing an engine, he decided to Get Gephardt.

3 days ago

Follow @KSL5TVLike us on Facebook...

Matt Gephardt

How hoarding documents puts you at risk for identity theft

Someone who knows what they’re doing can do a whole lot of damage with the scraps of paper you’ve stashed in filing cabinets, drawers and other various hiding places around your house.

4 days ago

IOC excludes Russian and Belarusian athletes from Paris 2024 Olympics opening ceremonies....

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: How to stay ahead of the 2024 Olympics scams

As Utahns know firsthand from 2002, the Olympics can be a bit chaotic with millions in an unfamiliar place. The situation is sure to entice opportunistic con men with Olympic scams.

5 days ago

Prosecutors filed felony charges in a Salt Lake City rape case from 2019, but later reduced them to...

Daniella Rivera

Could making this change help Utah improve sexual assault prosecutions?

Only a fraction of sexual assaults reported to police in Utah result in criminal charges for the perpetrator, but a legislative proposal could potentially change that.

6 days ago

FILE: construction zone...

Matt Gephardt

How to avoid hiring a bad contractor

Bobby Main investigates contractors for Utah's Division of Professional Licensing, here's his advice for avoiding bad contractors.

6 days ago

Dave Donegan showing Matt Gephardt the items that were broken in his move....

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

How liable is a moving company if your stuff gets damaged?

Dave Donegan’s home was just about to go into renovation, so he hired a moving and storage company to hold onto his household goods while work was underway.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

KSL Investigators Find Not All Polling Place Rules Are Strictly Enforced