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Wasatch County

About 2,500 undeliverable Wasatch County ballots ‘an anomaly’

ballots Wasatch County clerk office election 10-2-2021
Tracy Taylor
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On Election Day, about 2,500 returned ballots intended for Wasatch County voters sit in trays from the postal service in the clerk's office.

About 2,500 ballots mailed to registered voters in Wasatch County, or roughly one in 10, couldn’t be delivered this election.

The ballots were returned to the Wasatch County Clerk’s office ahead of Election Day last Tuesday. Nearly 20,000 were sent out for elections in Heber City and Wasatch County, as well as the county-wide vote for a recreation, arts and parks tax. About 40 voters came to the county building to find their ballots after realizing they hadn’t received them by mail.

According to Clerk Joey Granger, most of the cases of ballots not reaching voters were due to outdated information. Whether people move away or change addresses within town, they’re supposed to let the county know. The clerk receives rejected ballot deliveries every year because of these address changes.

“It really depends on the year and which election cycle we’re on,” she said. “The presidential years tend to be more popular, so people will stay up on their registration. This year, voter turnout was low, and people may or may not have come in to check on their registration and pick up their ballot and update that information.”

People changing their addresses is especially relevant in Wasatch County. Data from the 2020 census shows its growth rate is the highest in the state and one of the highest in the country.

Compared to similarly sized counties in the state, Utah Deputy Elections Director Shelley Jackson says Wasatch County’s undeliverable-ballot rate is out of the ordinary.

“I think an 11% undeliverable rate is an anomaly in a vote-by-mail jurisdiction,” Jackson said. “It is a priority for our office to work on lowering that in all counties. We plan on putting out some guidelines on how to help and guide counties regarding this in some of our upcoming election security legislation. We would also encourage voters to share in that responsibility and to take a proactive approach to updating that information, but certainly there are things we can do to give guidance and coaching to the counties to help bring down that rate.”

Voter turnout was just below 40%, with about 7,700 ballots cast in total. The county also received 44 uncounted provisional ballots and expected more to arrive by mail throughout last week.

After the preliminary count on Election Day, the county-wide RAP Tax vote had it being defeated by 10 votes. Councilwoman Heidi Franco led incumbent Kelleen Potter in the Heber City mayoral race by 66 votes, and Yvonne Barney had 60 more votes than Wayne Hardman for the second of two city council seats.

A race between three candidates for one of two seats on Charleston Town Council was also close after the first count.

Wasatch County will update vote counts after the certification process on Monday, November 15.

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