In The Star Press of Muncie, Indiana, a man identifying himself as C.L. Arrington wrote to the editor to say, “This is beyond all question the most important election ever to face the American people.”

Similarly, in Tennessee’s Johnson City Press, Moses E. Cantor bought an ad asserting that the November election “will be the most important election ever held in this country.”

These may sound like they were written yesterday, but they weren’t.

Arrington wrote his letter in 1952, telling readers a vote for Dwight David Eisenhower for president would “reverse the wheels of progress.” Cantor’s ad came before the 1964 election, warning that a vote for Barry Goldwater for president would put the future in peril.

American election zeal is neither new nor unusual. People are prone to exaggeration and fearmongering in defense of candidates and ideas.

What is new, however, is the widespread distrust of how election ballots are collected, verified and tabulated. That must stop. Elections in the United States are secure and fair. In Utah, they are especially so.

Without trust in elections, democracy is in peril.

We were inspired by the message former BYU general counsel Thomas Griffith recently shared at the annual conference of Braver Angels in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as reported by the Deseret News. The nation’s founders, he said, agreed to concessions that put “the nation’s well-being ahead of (their) own interests.”

Utah gubernatorial candidate Phil Lyman has refused to concede his primary election race to unseat Gov. Spencer Cox. Election results as of Tuesday show him trailing by nearly nine percentage points, or almost 30,000 votes. Fraud on that level would require conspiracies of mind-boggling proportions.

Lyman and his running mate, Natalie Clawson, have filed a lawsuit seeking to obtain access to the names, addresses and signatures of voters who signed petitions that placed three different candidates on the primary ballot.

Lyman and Clawson sue for information on Utah voters who signed candidates’ petitions

In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Celeste Maloy leads challenger Colby Jenkins by a scant 214 votes. Jenkins lost a lawsuit Monday seeking names and addresses of Washington County voters whose ballots require signature confirmation before being counted.

This race now will go to recount, part of the election process when a vote is so close that a recount is triggered to maintain voter confidence in the results. Jenkins trails, but certainly there would be no expectation of conceding until a vote this close is complete.

Maloy ahead of Jenkins by 214 votes — recount now likely in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District race

When it comes to understanding how ballots are counted in Utah, it would be hard to find a more complete look than what Deseret News reporters Hanna Seariac and Brigham Tomco provided late last week. They interviewed clerks statewide about built-in safeguards to ensure ballots were cast by actual registered voters and that they are counted accurately. They reported how each mail-in envelope has a nine-digit identification number that is unique to the corresponding voter, thus preventing voters from casting more than one ballot, and allowing ballots to be tracked as they are processed.

Signatures are checked against up to five examples each voter has on state records. The checking is done by people trained in verification. Each tabulation machine is tested prior to each election for logic and accuracy. After each election, random batches of votes are audited by teams that include members of the public.

Each election result is independently audited. In addition, anyone can contact a county clerk and arrange to observe ballot counting firsthand. Few people do, despite the many uninformed criticisms of the process.

Ryan Cowley, director of elections in the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, told the Deseret News that much has been done in recent years to improve processes.

“We’ve done a lot over the last few years to codify and standardize those practices among clerks by chain of custody, doing that within view of the public, doing that within areas under camera surveillance,” he said.

In light of all this, the idea of stuffing ballot boxes, voting multiple times, forging signatures or successfully committing any other type of voter fraud, especially on a level of tens of thousands of votes, becomes absurdly difficult.


On a national level, it is important to note that Donald Trump’s campaign filed 62 lawsuits alleging irregularities in the 2020 election. None was successful. In some cases, attorneys for the campaign made sweeping public statements alleging fraud, but the lawsuits they filed contained much milder allegations.

This isn’t to say that improvements or changes couldn’t be made, even in Utah. In some southern parts of the state, all mail is processed and stamped in Las Vegas before being delivered back to Utah destinations. Officials say this may have led to some ballots being postmarked too late, despite being mailed in time.

State lawmakers may need to set new deadlines to account for this.

But no one should doubt the integrity of Utah elections or the rigorous safeguards that keep fraud at bay. The process is more than adequate to overcome the passions of close elections. It keeps the interests of the state above those of any candidate.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.