UTAH

Sen. Romney touts safety of Utah elections, says he won’t run for president in 2024

Aug 18, 2022, 4:39 PM | Updated: 8:08 pm
Romney elections ballot safety...
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tours Weber County's vote center on Thursday, August 18, 2022 (Lindsay Aerts/KSL Newsradio)
(Lindsay Aerts/KSL Newsradio)

OGDEN, Utah — As he toured Weber County’s vote center on Thursday, Utah’s junior senator, Sen. Mitt Romney says he has “no doubt” in the security of Utah’s elections.

He also answered some questions about his political future, solidifying that he won’t be making a run for the White House in 2024.

Follow the Ballot: How Utah ballots are tabulated and audited

“With regards to our state I am fully confident, without question, that our election security is real,” Romney said after touring Weber County’s vote center Thursday.

As for the presidency? Romney was asked about it afterward.

“No I’m not running,” Romney said.

He joked that he’s done it a couple of times before, saying “and I think two times is enough.”

Vote Center tour

Sen. Romney got a first-hand look at Weber County’s vote center. He saw existing ballot security measures like how ballot signatures are verified. And the senator got a look at the machines used to tally ballots.

“I come away with certainty that the system we have in place here is accurate, fair, and is unable to be attacked and corrupted,” Romney said.

Follow the Ballot: Multiple security features accompany Utah mail-in ballots

One major thing the Senator said he learned from the tour was how none of Utah’s tabulating, or scanning machines are connected to the internet.

“The fact that these systems are not connected to the internet was important for me to understand,” he said.

Weber County Clerk, Ricky Hatch walked Sen. Romney around the vote center using a mock ballot to show him exactly what happens as it gets picked up by the USPS, or collected at a dropbox. Hatch even gave Romney two ballots, showing him how they would fix it if, for example, his wife signed his ballot and he signed his wife’s.

The Weber County Clerk’s office calls that a “spouse swap.” And they would catch that when verifying signatures either through a machine calibrated to verify signatures or by humans who review signatures that the machine kicks back.

Federal election bills

The senator also said he hopes there’s movement soon on the bipartisan effort to pass two federal elections bills he announced last month.

First, The Electoral Count Reform Act would define the role of the Vice President as being “solely ministerial and that he or she does not have any power to solely determine, accept, reject, or otherwise adjudicate disputes over electors.”

It also clarifies that a state’s governor, “unless otherwise specified in the laws or constitution of a state in effect on Election Day, as responsible for submitting the certificate of ascertainment identifying that state’s electors. Congress could not accept a slate submitted by a different official.”

And, the act raises the threshold for the number of senators and representatives needed to object to a state’s electors.

The other bill is called the Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act. Its main impact would be to double penalties “under federal law for individuals who threaten or intimidate election officials, poll watchers, voters, or candidates.”

Romney said that bill also provides funding for equipment and technology to preserve the reliability of voting systems around the country.

I don’t know that it’s going to make it more secure here in Weber County, what you have here is A-plus,” said Romney. “But there may be some counties across the country that could use better technology, better security.”

“(These bills have been) sent to two different committees,” Romney said. “They will negotiate among themselves any changes … and then it will be up to the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, to decide when and whether to bring it to the floor.”

Romney said he hopes these bills will be in place before the 2024 elections but thinks it could happen sooner.

“I presume he will move to have a vote probably before November, but he may wait until after November. But I think it’s important to have this in place, certainly before the 2024 election.”

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Sen. Romney touts safety of Utah elections, says he won’t run for president in 2024