CRIME

Cache County election worker faces felony accusing him of forging election document

Feb 20, 2024, 2:44 PM

The Cache County Clerk/Auditor's office moved their elections center into a much larger space this ...

The Cache County Clerk/Auditor's office moved their elections center into a much larger space this year, which will allow for much better transparency and improved security. (KSL TV)

(KSL TV)

LOGAN — A Cache County election worker has been charged with using document editing software to alter a document “related to the functioning of vote tabulating machines.”

Dustin James Hansen, 31, was charged Friday with willful neglect of duty by poll worker, a third-degree felony.

Hansen was responsible for “delivering a document related to the functioning of vote tabulating machines to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and forged the document to reflect a completion date that was different than when the report was actually made,” charging documents state. “The Lieutenant Governor’s Office inspected the document and suspected it had been altered. After an investigation, it was found that defendant had used PDF editing software on his work computer to alter the document.”

A logic and accuracy test is meant to ensure that all tabulation equipment is working properly and that ballots are being counted correctly. According to the Utah Election Handbook, it is “the act of testing every ballot style, from every source, on every piece of voting equipment.”

An internal and a public test of this kind are required by statute in Utah, before an election.

Before the election, members of Lt. Gov. Deirdre Henderson’s staff visited Logan, but the Cache County Clerk’s Office was unable to provide the state with documentation of its required logic and accuracy tests, according to an election investigation report from the lieutenant governor’s office. In a follow-up, the report said the clerk’s office claimed it did a logic and accuracy tests on Oct. 27, 2023, but the tests they sent were dated Oct. 26.

In that testing documentation, concerns were raised, because “none of the reports were signed by the individuals who performed the tests,” and two reports generated on separate equipment had identical timestamps down to the second.

The falsification of the documents became more clear, as the election report said errors in the election database were identified, resulting in incorrect ballots being mailed to Paradise, Amalga and several precincts in Logan.

The reports provided by the clerk’s office, dated Oct. 26, contained the corrected database information, but the clerk’s office was not aware of errors in its database until later, making the results impossible.

On Friday, Dec. 8, Cache County Clerk David Benson said he was notified of this by elections staff from the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office. That following Monday, Benson placed two elections staff members on administrative leave, and “voluntarily recused” himself until an investigation was conducted.

According to both Benson and the state’s investigation report, the issue did not impact the results of the elections, as the new database was used.

Henderson’s report presented a list of 31 findings and recommendations for Benson to address, after finding the election to be “deeply troubling,” with “an unprecedented lack of controls, widespread violations of Utah election law and administrative rule.”

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Cache County election worker faces felony accusing him of forging election document