Audits have shown that Utah’s elections are clean. No counting system is perfect, and an audit of the ‘22 election did find some counties with a few more votes than ballots, but no systemic errors or significant fraud were uncovered. Anomalies occur in any vote count. Unfortunately, that doesn’t satisfy a segment of the population that believes otherwise.

Utahns are less cynical about state election systems than they are about the rest of the nation. A Deseret New/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll in 2022 found 89% of Utahns believing the mid-term election would be conducted fairly in Utah. But a 2021 poll found that 41% believed there was widespread voter fraud in the presidential election of 2020.

What auditors found in Utah’s 2022 primary election

That cynicism tends to trickle down, which is why former GOP state chairman Stan Lockhart and Josh Daniels, the former Utah County clerk, have found it necessary to start a website — — with the stated aim of reassuring voters and building trust in Utah elections.

Unfortunately, facts just aren’t what they used to be. Or, more accurately, a segment of the population no longer is interested in facts. Former president Trump and his supporters filed 62 lawsuits in nine states after the 2020 election, contesting the results. Only one was initially ruled in Trump’s favor, but then it was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. And yet, national polls consistently show about a third of Americans believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen. A January poll by USA TODAY/Suffolk University showed 52% of Trump supporters had zero confidence that the 2024 count would be accurate.

Widespread voter fraud in 2020 election? A lot of Utahns think so

Lockhart and Daniels met with the Deseret News/KSL editorial board last week to talk about these things. The discussion is important for two reasons. First, Tuesday’s GOP primary election in Utah features hotly contested races with multiple candidates for U.S. Senate and House, and second, because election workers, and elected officials themselves, are experiencing a surge in physical threats.

At a legislative hearing last month, Director of Elections Ryan Cowley said 20 of the state’s 29 county clerks have left office since 2020, many due to “the tense political environment.”

“We haven’t had any necessarily actionable threats; we’ve come really close,” KSL reported him saying.

Daniels sees a problem with the unruly few possibly influencing the uninformed many.

“There are people out there tearing down election administration without very much knowledge,” he said. “And then there’s a whole lot of other people kind of in the middle who maybe don’t care that much but don’t understand if there’s a problem or not. And what they’re hearing are really loud voices who are angry, who are asserting there’s a problem, oftentimes with very little evidence, and they’re not really sure what to think.

“And we thought, we need to speak to that audience.”

The website establishes four general principles of good elections. They must be fair, accountable, secure and transparent. Each of those can be divided into several subheadings. The idea is to set a standard by which an election may be judged.

“And then you can sort of ignore all these specious red-herring type arguments trying to drag you into rabbit holes of conspiracy theories with very little evidence and just lots of fear and uncertainty and doubt,” Daniels said.


Lockhart suggests voters with doubts should become personally involved. Call your county clerk and ask to come by on election night and watch the counting. Transparency, he said, is the best antidote to suspicions.

Sometimes, he said, the truth is boring. Conspiracies are much more fun to consider — except that when democracy is at stake, there is nothing fun or interesting about entertaining rumors.

A website isn’t going to sway those who are disposed to mischief. It might convince people in the vast and largely politically unaware middle.

But the fact that Utahns, without any evidence, would need convincing that their state’s elections are handled competently, is a tragic sign of a nutty time in history.

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