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As Trump makes claims of ‘illegal votes,’ Utahns in Congress voice support for election system

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks to reporters as he arrives for the weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 9, 2020.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks to reporters as he arrives for the weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 9, 2020.
Susan Walsh, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Some of Utah’s congressional delegation responded Thursday with statements of support for the U.S. election process, as President Donald Trump held a press conference in which he asserted, without evidence, that he was losing key states because of “illegal votes.”

“Counting every vote is at the heart of democracy,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted just a few minutes after the press conference Thursday night. “That process is often long and, for those running, frustrating. The votes will be counted. If there are irregularities alleged, they will be investigated and ultimately resolved in the courts. Have faith in democracy, in our constitution, and in the American people.”

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, who was just reelected to represent the state’s 3rd Congressional District, issued a statement that underscored the importance of each vote.

“Engaged and active voters are crucial for us to have a vibrant and healthy form of government,” Curtis said. “Voting is fundamental to our nation and I believe that each voter’s voice should be heard, irrespective of who they voted for. When every state has certified their results after counting every legal ballot and the Electoral College has selected our president, I believe that the election outcome should, and will, be respected and accepted by both candidates and the public.”

He continued, “Regardless of who our next president is, as your congressman, I am committed to working with him and my colleagues in Congress to advance policies that benefit Utahns.”

Blake Moore, a Republican newly elected to represent the 1st District, told the Deseret News that most people understood this election wasn’t going to be decided on Nov. 3.

“President Trump may take legal action as he so chooses, as much as Biden may take legal action if his campaign feels it necessary,” Moore said. “Let the process continue to unfold. We knew this election would take time to accurately process, and it’s living up to that expectation.”

Moore is replacing Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who did not seek reelection after 18 years in office. Bishop could not be reached for comment Thursday about the president’s remarks.

Sen. Mike Lee’s office declined to respond to the president’s speech, referring instead to a tweet he had posted earlier in the day. The senator, who was the co-chair of Trump’s reelection campaign in Utah, tweeted, “Americans deserve a free and fair election. While vote counters must be allowed to do their jobs the American people also need a transparent process so they can trust the final count.”

Utah’s lone Democrat in Congress, Rep. Ben McAdams, who represents District 4, and his Republican opponent, Burgess Owens, both declined comment about the speech.

Rep. Chris Stewart’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

But Thursday morning, the congressman, who just won another term representing District 2, posted the following statement:

“An important point on the mainstream media polls,” Stewart tweeted. “They weren’t just incredibly wrong again. They’re not that incompetent. They didn’t just make a mistake. They made a decision. They said we’re willing to be wrong in order to shape public opinion. No one will hold us accountable.”

He continued in a second tweet, “A week after the election it won’t matter. We’re going to spend two years telling the country that Trump is going to lose, knowing it would have an affect. It’s nothing less than voter manipulation.”

Utah’s Gov.-elect Spencer Cox, who in his current post as lieutenant governor oversees the state’s election process, also issued a reaction on Twitter.

“I didn’t see the President’s press conference,” Cox said. “However, elections are the foundation of our country. Please don’t believe unfounded allegations that destroy trust in the process. We must be patient while every legal vote is counted, accept the results and move forward together.”

About 90 minutes after the speech, Gov. Gary Herbert also responded with a tweet stressing the importance of making sure every ballot is counted.

“In Utah, our system ensures every properly cast vote is counted and accurately reflected in totals,” he said. “We trust that is the case in other states. We should ensure every eligible person has the opportunity to vote — and that their vote, if properly cast, is counted.”