A tale of two Steves: Davis County voters face confusion over two write-in’s named Steve

Sep 22, 2022, 3:53 PM | Updated: Sep 23, 2022, 11:06 am

Steve Handy is pictured...

Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, speaks in the House chamber at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — There are two candidates, both named Steve, now running as write-ins for a seat in Utah’s House District 16 in Davis County. Rep. Steve Handy, R-Layton, is the sitting lawmaker while Steve Fershtut joined the race on the last day in the last hours of the filing deadline.

Handy said he believes Fershtut’s move to launch a write-in campaign was no coincidence.

“I do believe it was a deliberate act, I mean, the coincidences are just too strong,” Handy said, laughing.

Handy launched his own write-in campaign August 30th after losing the nomination to Trevor Lee at the Davis County Convention. Fershtut filed a week later, in the waning hours before the deadline.

What it means for voters

With two Steves now in the race as write-ins, any ballots with just that name, “Steve,” would be voided due to Handy and Fershtut’s shared name. Clerks would not be able to tell which Steve voters intended.

The other Steve, Fershtut, said he is running on a Republican platform. But he said he was also encouraged to join the race by a supporter of the GOP nominee in the race, Trevor Lee.

Fershtut said he was told by a Lee supporter that any marking on the write-in line of a ballot would automatically go to Handy, which is false.

Ballots that have something unclear written in them, like a line or mark, will be void. They would not have been counted in favor of Handy, even if Fershtut had not entered the race.

Fershtut’s running does muddy the waters for Handy though, as any ballot with just the name “Steve” will be voided too.

“I’m running on my platform, but it also helps to make a fair voting process,” Fershtut said, in defense of his decision to run.

When asked if he had anything to do with Fershtut’s decision, Lee said “I did not, no.”

But, Lee noted, that people in his circle could have had something to do with it. Lee said he just focuses on what he needs to do and leaves the rest in the hands of the experts in his campaign.

Lee’s campaign manager David Kyle also denied having anything to do with Fershtut’s move.

The other candidate in the race is a Libertarian, Brent Zimmerman.

Related: New site helps inform voters on Utah judges ahead of election season

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A tale of two Steves: Davis County voters face confusion over two write-in’s named Steve