Election threats reported in Utah, as other states still see ‘unusual’ levels

Oct 6, 2022, 5:00 AM
threats election workers ballot count amendments utah...
FILE: Ballots are processed by workers at the Utah County Clerk /Auditor’s Office in Provo on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The FBI said this week seven states are still seeing unusual levels of threats against election officials. All of the states involved have seen their 2020 results questioned. Utah was not among those, however, Utah elections officials are not immune.

At least two county clerks report recent threats.

Utah election threats: Salt Lake County

Outgoing Salt Lake Clerk Sherrie Swenson said that, since January, she’s received “multiple” threats.

“Actually, three in one day in January from a person who said ‘a tsunami is coming, a tsunami is coming, you’re all going to be gone.'”

Swenson said it happened again in February.

The most recent threat, according to Swenson, was on Primary Election Day in late June. She said a woman came into a polling place and was upset over not being able to vote on a paper ballot. Voting systems at in-person voting centers in Salt Lake County are by machine, not paper.

Poll workers had the woman talk to Swenson directly. She said she explained several times why the resident couldn’t vote by paper. She said she told the resident she could vote with a paper ballot if she voted by mail. 

According to Swenson, the woman said she didn’t trust the mail or machines.

“And she preceded to say we’re going to get you. And she repeated it a number of times,” said Swenson.

Utah election threats: Weber County

In Weber County, Clerk Rick Hatch said their office received two voicemails from a man upset with the job of the clerk’s office.

KSL NewsRadio obtained a copy of those.

“You guys are a big scam,” the caller said, adding multiple profanities aimed at the elections office. The man then took issue with someone named Lisa. “You’re going down, she’s going down, you’re all going down,” he said.

During another part of the call the man said, “I expect a call on Monday or I’ll be there next Thursday and I’ll show you what I’ve got.”

Those are the parts of the call that made Hatch and his staff uneasy.

“It was the specific nature,” said Hatch. “He started talking about time frames.”

Hatch added that they brought the call to the attention of law enforcement. Together they determined there was no legal threat.

“But it certainly was concerning,” Hatch said.

According to Hatch, law enforcement was going to reach out to the caller.

The FBI said Monday that the states experiencing “unusual” numbers of election threats were Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin. All of the states, officials noted,  were states where the 2020 election results were questioned.

“When you come to Utah maybe we don’t have as much volume, as many threats and incidences and concerns,” said Hatch. “But all it takes is one person.”

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Election threats reported in Utah, as other states still see ‘unusual’ levels