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Lt. Gov.’s office asks Utah counties not to post results until all polls close

Nov 8, 2022, 7:23 AM

SALT LAKE CITY — Election results across the state may be delayed Tuesday night because of issues with mail-in ballots in two rural Utah counties.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson wants anyone in line when the polls close to get their ballots cast before any results are released.

As voters made their ballot drops outside the Salt Lake County elections office Monday evening, just a few steps away inside the building, the hum of machines signaled the count of thousands of balllots.

Workers immediately turned around the envelopes they received and got the ballots ready. But come 8:01 p.m. on Election Day, Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swenson indicated that even though they’ll have tabulated hundreds of thousands of votes ready to push out to the public, they may have to hold off.

“We’ve been told and all the other counties in the state, that we’re not to release results until the last person in line has voted,” Swenson said. “Because they’re concerned that there would still be people in line, especially in those couple of counties where there are more people apt to vote in person.”

They need to wait until polling places clear up across the state, including areas like Iron and Carbon counties, where voting locations could still be bustling.

That’s because shipping issues left many voters in those counties without a mail-in ballot this year.

“I feel very badly for the couple of counties that had an issue where the ballots didn’t get delivered to the voters, and so now they’re scrambling trying to have more access to the in-person voting,” Swenson expressed.

Iron, Carbon counties add early voting days after mail ballot delays

Iron County Clerk Jon Whittaker said Monday afternoon they had received 9,000 ballots, with 5,000 people casting votes in person and the other 4,000 mailing in ballots.

Of the 28,000 registered voters in the county, they aren’t sure how many of the 21,000 left still plan to vote Tuesday — and just how many will need to come to a voting place in person because they never got their ballot in the mail.

“We haven’t been able to know exactly how many people received ballots,” he said. “So, we’ve kind of planned for the worst-case scenario.”

Both Iron County and Carbon County opened up extra voting locations to help with the potential influx. On Monday, Whittaker was stationed at the Dixie Power Station at the Beryl Junction off state Route 56 in Escalante Valley.

He explained that they don’t have a lot of equipment at that location. They already had reports of long lines in Cedar City on Monday.

“Frankly, I think there’s going to be some long waits at the vote centers,” he said. “We’ve tried every way we could think of to get the word out.”

Carbon County Clerk/Auditor Seth Marsing estimated that 75% to 80% of ballots ended up finally reaching homes.

Still, he said it’s “obvious” that plenty of people didn’t receive a mail-in ballot. Of the 10,500 registered voters in Carbon County, he said Monday afternoon that about 2,550 have come to vote in person and 1,400 have sent in ballots by mail.

They believe another 2,500 voters will cast their ballots on Election Day.

“We will still have, I’m sure, a large line and lots of people tomorrow, which is fantastic,” Marsing said. “And we’re doing our very best to be ready for that.”

Swenson talked about how Salt Lake County is ready, and they don’t expect long lines at any of the county’s 42 voting centers.

It’s unclear how long of a delay the state may see in releasing the first set of results on Tuesday night.

Swenson said they’ll just continue everything like normal as they wait for the all-clear.

“We’ll just keep working and everything will be fine,” she said. “It’ll just be a matter of not releasing that first big report.”

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Lt. Gov.’s office asks Utah counties not to post results until all polls close