Utah has been a model for election integrity and security. A former GOP secretary of state and former chairman of the Republican Association of Secretaries of State pointed to Utah’s vote-by-mail system as one worthy of emulation. Gov. Spencer Cox explained last year that vote-by-mail has stimulated civic engagement and that Utah has seen “very, very little fraud.” A record-high 90% of eligible voters in Utah cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election.
In an interview this summer, former Utah County Clerk/Auditor and now Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner spoke with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) about Utah’s election security: “Utah really exemplifies the mantra of ‘Easy to Vote, Hard to Cheat’ with our elections,” she said. “We have a very robust and secure VBM process here, beginning with updated voter rolls, requiring ID for every vote and ensuring only one vote per registered voter. Every election is audited using randomized audits, transparency is built into the process, and we have solid deadlines that govern how we run elections.”
Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swenson detailed the same process for KSL: “For every registered voter who submits an online form, we require a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number,” Swenson said. “Once clerks verify voter information through the state database, they send the voter a voter-identification card. Each ballot has a unique number that is correlated to the voter’s record. When a voter returns a ballot, they must do so in the ballot envelope provided. A voter also needs to sign the provided return envelope — all to prevent fraud.”
It is therefore somewhat surprising to have a Republican legislator, in a super-majority Republican state try to sow doubt on the results of an election that concluded a year ago. According to the state’s top election officer, Lt. Governor Deidre Henderson, there were 462 different races on Utah ballots last year and none were contested.
Yet Rep. Steve Christiansen (R-West Jordan) wants to severely restrict the ability of Utahns to vote-by-mail, something Utah voters have been doing successfully for a decade. A head-scratcher for sure, since he himself has voted that way in every election since at least 2016. In fact, a GRAMA request reveals that his ballot for this year’s municipal election was received on Friday, October 22. That means he likely mailed his ballot on interim day – the same day he flooded a hearing with hundreds of people objecting to vote-by-mail.