Election clerks in Utah say new law is pulling them from counting votes

Nov 1, 2022, 9:30 PM | Updated: Nov 8, 2022, 11:36 am
Sandy mayor's race...
FILE: Michael Fife, election coordinator, prepares to put ballots into a counting machine as Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen, shows some of the ballot counting processes of mail-in ballots in South Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019 (Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)
(Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new Utah law requires that county clerks post online the number of ballots they receive, as well as where those ballots are in the counting process.

Some clerks say this new requirement is cumbersome — and taking away from time they could be counting ballots.

Davis County Clerk Brian McKenzie said it’s not so much figuring out the total number of ballots, but the hard part is the requirement to also figure out the number of ballots that are in process, that have not been processed, ballots that have been challenged, that need adjudication, replication, or have been replicated. 

“Does it slow down our operation when we have to go into that much detail? Absolutely,” said McKenzie.

Weber County Clerk Ricky Hatch, called this law “death by a thousand cuts.”

“A single bill that adds only a small amount of additional work isn’t a big deal. Thirty bills that each add only a small amount of additional work adds up to a lot of work,” he told KSL NewsRadio.

Counting votes

McKenzie likened the process to trying to count all the cars on I-15 while they were moving. If they stopped down, it would be easy.

“Literally thousands of ballots are coming in every day,” McKenzie said, “and are being processed in various different steps in the ballot processing.”

Salt Lake County reports they had to buy two counting machines to tally their ballots. 

“It adds a whole ‘nother step to our process,” said Clerk Sherrie Swenson.

The new law requires “estimated” ballot counts be posted every Monday, Wednesday, Friday before Election Day. Along with the overall tally, the specific requirements include provisional ballots that have not been processed, ballots that need adjudicated, the number of ballots awaiting replication, and the number that have been replicated. 

McKenzie also points out that having this data tallied after Election Day makes sense for campaigns who might need to tell how many votes are outstanding, but the reason it’s needed before Election Day, he says, doesn’t make sense to him.

“I don’t see how this information is necessarily helpful to our citizens nor to campaigns or candidates,” he said.

Not all counties say it’s cumbersome, though. Utah County Clerk Josh Daniels says his county uses what’s known as their Agilis machine, which also verifies signatures, to tally. And tallies are something he says his county does anyway.

Despite the extra work, McKenzie said he does not see this impacting any results.

Read more:

Today’s Top Stories


Portions of Salt Lake County saw fog on Tuesday morning, a weather phenomenon that doesn't typicall...
Simone Seikaly

Great Salt Lake, moisture in the air created Tuesday’s commuter fog

Moisture in the air and proximity to the Great Salt Lake, and the lake's temperature, all combined for Tuesday's foggy commute.
17 hours ago
UDOT is seeking public comment on a proposed expansion of 1600 in Orem....
Chris Jacobs

UDOT wants public comments for proposed Orem expansion

The UDOT plan is to expand a section of 1600 North in Orem, between State Street and 1200 West to five lanes and a bike lane.
17 hours ago
Hugo Rikard-Bell

Suspected criminals on Zillow listing Utah homes for sale without homeowners’ knowledge

Be careful when looking at homes on Zillow with the intention of buying or renting them, they may not actually be on the market.
17 hours ago
The Quiet Santa event allows kids with sensory issues to meet Santa. (Photo: Canva)...
Chris Jacobs

“Quiet Santa” provides space for kids with sensory issues

The University Place Mall is hosting a "Quiet Santa" event for kids with sensory issues like Autism. The event runs. through Dec. 10.
17 hours ago
The mayor of Provo, Utah, discusses how popular the city's four-day workweek has been, why it's pop...
Simone Seikaly

A 4-day workweek is working for Provo government

Provo Mayor Michelle Kafusi said she isn't surprised at the positive results reported after a global 4 day workweek pilot program.
17 hours ago
free national park...
Aimee Cobabe

Lawsuit against Arches National Park after incident resulting in the death of a woman

A trial is underway after a woman was decapitated at Arches National Park. Her family alleges the park was negligent in not securing a gate that killed her.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Election clerks in Utah say new law is pulling them from counting votes