Republican Mel Brown Files Suit Over Recount in HD53 Primary Election

Matheson Court HouseState Rep. Mel Brown has asked the Utah Supreme Court to allow the counting of 64 ballots cast in his District 53 primary defeat, UtahPolicy was told Monday morning.

State elections chief Mark Thomas was reading the newly-filed suit as UtahPolicy called him to verify the filing.

An official recount showed Brown, R-Coalville, the current longest serving House member, lost to Morgan County Councilmember Logan Wilde by just eight votes out of more than 4,000 cast in the late June GOP primary election.

Thomas said when there is a court dispute in a multi-county district like Brown’s, any legal remedy goes directly to the Utah Supreme Court.

The Utah Elections Office, which Thomas oversees, after consulting with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, decided that 64 of the last-minute mail-in ballots in District 53 could not be opened and counted because the U.S. Postal Service couldn’t determine if those ballots were actually dropped in the mailboxes before midnight on the day before the June 28 election.

State law says mail-in ballots must be postmarked before Election Day.

But in rural areas of the state – and much of House District 53 would fall into that category – mail deposit boxes sometimes are not collected until the next day – so the postmarks come a day later.

It is an issue various lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to address for several years – but no clarifying bills have ever passed.

Accordingly, 64 District 53 ballots were not opened and not counted – because the official postmarks are after the legal deadline.

Brown wants those ballots opened and counted, and asked the Supreme Court to rule so.

It is likely the high court will review and rule on the case quickly, since Wilde is now campaigning against Democrat Cole Capener in the traditionally-Republican district, which includes parts of Morgan, Summit, Rich and Duchesne counties.