A mistake that caused possibly hundreds of voters to cast ballots in the wrong state senate race last year has cost Salt Lake County $5,000.

County commissioners voted Monday to settle a claim by state Sen. Brent Richards, R-Riverton, over attorney's fees he was forced to pay because of the error.Richards was declared the winner by 196 votes in the 1992 Republican primary election against incumbent Sen. Dix McMullin.

But county officials had inadvertently placed the wrong voting books inside booths in at least six polling places. While election judges eventually caught the mistake, some of the bad books remained in place until 9 a.m., after about 366 people had voted. As a result, some voters cast ballots between two candidates vying to represent an adjoining district.

McMullin challenged the election, and the dispute went to the Utah Supreme Court, which ruled Richards the winner. The justices said McMullin was unable to prove that the county's mistake changed the outcome.

Richards and his attorney, Robert Copier, originally asked the county for $15,000 to cover attorney's fees. County officials said they didn't believe Copier could justify that amount, so they agreed to pay $5,000.

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County attorneys made it clear Monday they didn't think the county should pay anything, but commissioners voted 2-1 to make the payment.

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