A recount in the 2nd Congressional District primary race between Rep. Celeste Maloy and Colby Jenkins just got more likely as Maloy continues to hang onto her lead.

An update on Wednesday, the majority coming from Washington County, narrowed Maloy’s lead from 302 votes to 295.

The update represented “cured” ballots that previously needed signature confirmation from corresponding voters, as well as a late influx of 350 unprocessed ballots that arrived in Washington County from the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Las Vegas on Tuesday — one week after Election Day. Only 87 ballots of this unexpected batch were postmarked before Election Day and could be counted, the county said.

“It was kind of a surprise to us to see,” Washington County Clerk Ryan Sullivan told the Deseret News.

Washington County currently has 531 challenged ballots on their cure list.

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Will there be a recount in Utah’s 2nd District race?

The county clerk’s office has reached out to each of these voters via a letter, and, for those who provided contact information, via text and a phone call. The last day for voters to remedy their challenged ballots in Washington County is Monday, one day before the county has their election certification, or canvass, meeting on Tuesday.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure that they know they’ve got to get in here to cure those for their vote to count,” Sullivan said.

If latebreaking ballots, including cured ballots, across the district’s 13 counties continue to favor Jenkins at or above the rate they have been in the previous few days, then updated vote totals on Friday and Monday could put the race in recount territory — .25% of the nearly 107,000 votes cast, or a margin of around 270 votes.

Coming within this threshold is the outcome the Jenkins campaign has been hoping for since Maloy’s initial winning margin of 1,000 votes fell to 383 and then kept falling slowly with subsequent updates. If Jenkins comes within roughly 270 votes of Maloy he will be able to file a request for a recount with the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

The 2nd Congressional District race will undergo a statewide canvass by the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office on July 22 because it is a multi-county election. A candidate must file a request for a recount no later than seven days after the statewide canvass, according to state code.

The lieutenant governor must conduct a full recount of the race no later than 10 days after the statewide canvass. A recount includes recounting all ballots cast in a race and reexamining all uncounted ballots to ensure they were rightly discarded.

Close call: 2nd District nail-biter comes down to challenged votes

Why did Washington County receive late ballots from Las Vegas?

The 350 ballots received by Washington County on Tuesday, including the 263 discarded for being postmarked on, or after, Election Day, are still something of a mystery. While every ballot has a nine-digit identification code that correlates to just one envelope and just one voter, Sullivan said he has yet to identify what area the ballots came from and why it took so long for the U.S. Postal Service to get the ballots to them.


All mail sent from, or to, Washington County is routed through the Las Vegas mail processing facility, including mail-in ballots. Sullivan said he hopes Tuesday’s ballot dump will be the last and encourages future voters to vote by dropbox or in person, two methods he said he considers safer and faster.

“If I could get any message out to the world of voters is, if at all possible, to put your ballot in a dropbox, it’s just the safest way to get your ballot to us. Or vote in person,” he said.

Davis County Clerk Brian McKenzie said the rerouting of Washington County mail through Las Vegas is a recent development. And while it is far from ideal for ballots to arrive this late in the election, McKenzie said Utah’s vote-by-mail system ensures that late arriving ballots are treated the same as any other.

“That’s why that postmark is such a valid and such an important aspect of how we do things in Utah,” McKenzie said. “Those voters if they turned them in timely, they would have received a timely postmark, and even if they get to the clerk’s office a few days before the canvass, they can still be counted and accepted if they were cast timely.”

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