The campaign of 2nd Congressional District candidate Colby Jenkins alleged on Monday that U.S. Postal Service practices may have disenfranchised a number of southern Utah voters. He claims the voters turned their ballots in on time, but they were postmarked after the state’s deadline.

As of Monday evening, Jenkins was 314 votes behind incumbent Rep. Celeste Maloy out of almost 107,000 votes cast in the Republican primary election held on June 25.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked (stamped by post offices) before Election Day to be counted by county election offices, according to state code. But Iron County officials and the Jenkins campaign shared concerns with the Deseret News Monday about mail-in ballots being rejected because they were postmarked days after they were received by post offices.

The Maloy-Jenkins match-up is Utah’s closest Republican congressional primary in 30 years. But it isn’t close enough yet for a recount — according to state law, Jenkins would need to close that gap to around 270 votes.

In the two weeks since the June 25 primary election, Iron and Washington counties have received at least 750 ballots from USPS that were postmarked after June 24 and could not be counted, the Deseret News confirmed with the respective county clerks.

A surprise ballot batch brings the Maloy-Jenkins race closer to a recount

The Jenkins campaign said volunteers had visited post offices across the district and said some Utah postal offices do not necessarily postmark ballots the day they receive them. Instead, ballots in several southern Utah counties are first taken to the mail distribution center in Las Vegas, hours away, before they are postmarked.

“Our campaign visited several post offices in multiple counties and we heard the same thing from each one that it was possible that a ballot could be dropped at their collection point the day before the election and still not be postmarked until it arrived in Las Vegas the following day,” said Greg Powers, the general consultant on Jenkins’ campaign.

Powers said the campaign believed that post offices did not make a record of what time mail-in ballots are received, meaning a ballot could be submitted well before the pre-Election Day deadline but there would be no way for county clerks to sort through which ballots were submitted on time and which were not.

Powers said voters had reached out to the Jenkins campaign saying they submitted their ballots before the collection time when ballots are taken to Las Vegas on June 24 but their ballots were still rejected because of a late postmark.

“Our campaign is worried about the discrepancy between what the post office says they do and what they’re actually doing and that that could be disenfranchising hundreds of voters in southern Utah,” Powers said.

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Speaker Schultz: No special session to address mail-in ballots

Iron County Commissioner Paul Cozzens announced in a Facebook post over the weekend he could not certify the results of the election during Monday’s county canvass “while hundreds of voters followed state law and their votes will not count.”

On Monday, Iron County commissioners decided to postpone their election certification to Tuesday at 4 p.m. in an attempt to find a way of verifying which of the county’s 491 late postmarked ballots may have actually been put in the mail before the deadline on June 24.

The 491 ballots rejected because of a late postmark in 2024 “is a larger number” than in past elections, Iron County Clerk Jon Whittaker said.

“I think the Legislature needs to call a special session and make some changes,” Cozzens told the Deseret News. “You’re disenfranchising a whole bunch of voters.”

In a separate statement, Cozzens said there are multiple Iron County voters willing to sign affidavits attesting to having submitted their ballots on time while still having their ballots rejected because of a late postmark. Several of those voters appeared at a county commission hearing on Monday morning.

Utah House Speaker Mike Schultz told the Deseret News the Legislature would not call a special session to address late postmarked GOP primary ballots for a number of reasons.

“It’s hard to change the rules right in the middle of the game,” Schultz said.

If there is enough evidence showing that post offices did “make a mistake” then there would be “a little bit of wiggle room” for county clerks to determine whether to treat late postmarked ballots as valid, he said. But clerks would need more than voter complaints to know which ballots might to count.

“If they decide to count the votes, they’re going to have to have some pretty strong evidence I think that the post office made a mistake,” Schultz said. “But there is a little bit of language in there in controversies that the clerks are supposed to take the intent of the voter into account.”

State lawmakers will “be having conversations” about the law relating to postmark deadlines, particularly in southern Utah where mail has recently been rerouted through Las Vegas, Schultz said.

But he said the postmark deadline will almost certainly not be moved to Election Day or else voters in some counties could potentially submit mail-in ballots after polls close.

“I think maybe the solution is to have more drop boxes set up out there in those areas so that people can drop them off,” Schultz said.

Still a few hundred votes behind in congressional race, Colby Jenkins files lawsuit to get voters’ names and addresses

Jenkins campaign may pursue 2nd lawsuit in 2nd District race


On Monday morning, a judge delivered a ruling that put a stop to an effort by the Jenkins’ campaign to obtain a list with the names and addresses of voters whose ballots require signature confirmation before they can be counted in Washington County.

But Jenkins is exploring additional legal steps if he is unable to call for a recount. By the end of Tuesday, all 13 counties in the 2nd District will have certified their election results and finalized their vote tallies.

If at that point Maloy’s winning margin is still greater than the recount threshold of around 270 votes then the Jenkins campaign will evaluate whether there are enough outstanding ballots to change the results of the election and will conduct a legal analysis as to whether they can file a lawsuit based on voters being treated differently in different Utah counties because of differences in USPS practices which could be grounds for a “constitutional challenge,” Powers said.

“If this postmark issue becomes a thing, and it looks like it’s widespread enough that it could affect the results of the election, then even if there’s no recount today, we’ll contest the election and we’ll pursue it in court to make sure that all of these ballots are counted,” Powers said.

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