Iron County explores lessons learned after ballot shipping delays

Nov 9, 2022, 6:20 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2022, 9:47 am

IRON COUNTY, Utah — Iron County leaders are already working on a new plan for the next election to ensure voters receive their ballots on time.

KSL reported that thousands of mail-in ballots went on an out-of-state journey, which delayed them getting to voters.

Iron County Clerk Jon Whittaker said he’d do some things differently to ensure there are no more ballot delays in the future.

“Let’s not do that again,” Whittaker said. “That was very difficult and challenging for all of us.”

While some voters did get their ballots ahead of time, many never received one.

KSL News Specialist Shelby Lofton talked to voters in line, and many of them said they didn’t receive an email, phone call or text message from the county about the ballot delays.

“One of the biggest challenges that we had was we didn’t realize how much trouble we were in until it was a bit later,” Whittaker said. “If we had found out earlier, we would’ve expanded early voting, spread that word more. You just can’t catch everyone.”

He said while voter turnout this year was lower than the last midterm election, he’s pleased with the results despite the challenges.

“I’m hoping we’ll get to 50 (percent) or higher,” he said Wednesday.

Mail-in ballots were still trickling in.

“We’re actually kind of in-line percentage-wise so far with turnout with other counties,” Whittaker said.

Many voters are still confused about what happened with the ballots. Whittaker said he’s still searching for answers himself.

“Basically, it was comingled with other mail, put on ballots, and then, as we struggled to reach out to the postal service who helped us to track the Intelligent Mail Barcodes, they found that some of them went through different parts of the country,” he explained. “They should’ve been segregated, and they should’ve been identified as ballots, and then also not mailed from outside of Utah.”

Whittaker has been on the phone with the printer and shipping company Pitney Bowes, trying to track down what went wrong.

“I did ask that they give us some corrective action and show me what you’ve done to help this not happen again,” he said.

The county had ballot delays last year due to supply chain issues.

“He used the same printer this year that he had problems with last year,” Iron County voter Steven Borg said. “So that’s where a lot of the concern and frustration is.”

Whittaker responded to the criticism.

“I feel the same way, and I had been made promises by that same printer, and unfortunately, that’s why we had to let them go, and we’ll be doing a request for proposal for a new print company,” he said.

Whittaker said as soon as this election is wrapped up, finding a new printer will be his priority.

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Iron County explores lessons learned after ballot shipping delays