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Guest opinion: Utah voters can handle the truth

In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, photo, election workers process returned voted ballots in the Salt Lake County Government Center, in Salt Lake City.
In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018, photo, election workers process returned voted ballots in the Salt Lake County Government Center, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer, AP

“You can’t handle the truth!”

This is the famous line shouted by Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men” as he refers to the intricacies of managing government projects.

Well, we think that Utah voters can handle the truth. As your county and state election administrators, we want you to know that your elections are solidly secure and implement top-of-the-line processes.

The alleged voter fraud in a few hot spots around the country (think North Carolina) has sent a surge of mistrust for all states when it comes to elections. We’re often asked questions about elections. The most common is, “How do you keep people from voting twice?” The process is set and clear. Every voter has a unique code assigned to them. Whether voting in person or by mail, we take your first submission. If a voter attempts to vote twice, we only count the first ballot that we process (and the voter will likely get a call from our County Attorney). There are no exceptions to this rule.

Voters occasionally express concern that someone else could fill out their vote-by-mail ballot and send it in. We have taken incredible precautions to ensure your ballot cannot be cast by someone else. When we receive your ballot, we compare your signature with your signatures in our database, one of which usually comes from the State Driver License Division. If the signatures don’t match, we don’t count your ballot until after we tell you and you fix it.

We take seriously your constitutional right to a secret ballot. We include a removable affidavit or provide a privacy sleeve for every ballot. Your ballot stays in the sealed envelope until after we verify your signature. After that, we remove all personally identifiable information before we even touch the ballot, thus keeping your ballot secret.

Ballots are always handled with at least two sworn election judges present. This control helps ensure that nothing is mishandled. Ballots are processed in batches, with multiple reconciliation points throughout the process.

These are just a few of the controls that we implement. Everything we do is open to public observation at all times. This is a great opportunity for the public to see how ballots are being handled and to ask questions. We love having good company while doing our jobs, and since we are usually working 12-plus hour days, we’d love it even more if you bring snacks.

With the current political climate of mistrust across the nation, we feel it is crucial to let you, our constituents, know that your ballots are safe. We are grateful to play a key role of this fundamental pillar of our government. We are humbled by the support that Utah residents, political parties, watchdog groups and elected officials have offered. If you still have questions, or want to check out our process, please ask. Thank you all for participating in your civic duty.

Utah County clerks: Ginger McMullin, Beaver; Marla Young, Box Elder; Jill Zollinger, Cache; Seth Marsing, Carbon; Brian Raymond, Daggett; Curtis Koch, Davis; JoAnn Evans, Duchesne; Brenda Tuttle, Emery; Camille Moore, Garfield; Chris Baird, Grand; Jon Whittaker, Iron; Alaina Lofgran, Juab; Karla Johnson, Kane; Marki Rowley, Millard; Stacy Netz Clark, Morgan; Kali Lee Gleave, Piute; Becky Peart, Rich; Sherrie Swensen, Salt Lake; John David Nielson, San Juan; Sandy Neill, Sanpete; Steven Wall, Sevier; Kent Jones, Summit; Marilyn Gillette, Tooele; Michael Wilkins, Uintah; Amelia Powers, Utah; Brent Titcomb, Wasatch; Kim Hafen, Washington; Ryan Torgerson, Wayne; Ricky Hatch, Weber.