At least 90 unprocessed signature packets for the Count My Vote citizen's initiative that had gone missing were discovered Wednesday morning in the Utah Elections Office.
The packets contain an estimated 2,000 signatures from Utah County that could go a long way toward determining whether the CMV proposal makes the November ballot. Elections officials have ordered Utah County to process them immediately.
Count My Vote officials tell UtahPolicy.com they've been working with county clerks to process thousands of outstanding signatures, and the newly discovered packets make up a significant number of those remaining signatures. State law specifies the deadline for verifying those signatures was yesterday, so it's unclear whether the signatures will be considered valid even though they were submitted on time.
CMV officials tell UtahPolicy.com there are a total of 156 signature packets for their ballot initiative currently unaccounted for. In addition to the newly discovered Utah County signatures, the remaining packages mostly contain names from Iron and Washington Counties.
That geographic distribution is key since opponents of Count My Vote have been targeting Senate districts in those counties for signature removal efforts to prevent Count My Vote from securing a spot on the November ballot. Thousands of additional signatures could tip the scales decisively in favor of Count My Vote's efforts.
The missing packets had been included with processed signature forms that was returned to the Lt. Governor's office on Monday.
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox sent a letter to Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson on Wednesday morning, ordering his office to process them immediately and explain why they had been omitted.
CMV officials say they have ample proof that the missing packets were submitted before the April 15 deadline, including copies of receipts from county clerks.
To qualify for the November ballot, a ballot initiative must receive more than 113,000 signatures statewide. Additionally, organizers must gather signatures equal to 10-percent of the vote in the previous presidential election in 26 of Utah's 29 Senate districts. Count My Vote has met both of those requirements, but their current margin in a few of those districts currently is close enough that the totals might drop below qualifying levels with a concerted effort to get signators to take their names off of the petition.
The Keep My Voice organization has been doing just that, targeting Utahns in three Senate districts to take their names off of the initiative. If they are successful in just one of those districts, they would block Count My Vote from qualifying from November's ballot.