Clerk continues to count during week after election

County Clerk Sandy Neill is holding a container of perforated tabs that have been removed from ballots. In most cases, the voter’s signature was on the tab, so the tab had to be removed to keep the ballot secret. The clerk’s office counted 11,909 ballots on election night. Over the next week, the staff counted another 427, provisional, write-in and other atypical ballots.


Clerk continues to count during week after election


By Suzanne Dean




 MANTI—Election night was only the beginning for Sanpete County Clerk Sandy Neill and her staff.

            Yes, they counted the bulk of the ballots, 11,909, on Nov. 3.

But by Monday, Nov. 6, they had counted 12,336. And the staff estimated they had 100 to 200 outstanding.

            When the 427 additional ballots counted between election night and Monday were added into totals for more than 40 races or issues on the ballot, they didn’t change the results very much.

            Over a week’s time, Donald Trump’s total in Sanpete County went from 9,705 to 10,064, and Joe Biden’s from 1,783 to 1,735, but their percentages didn’t change. (See chart for updated numbers).

            There was a similar pat­tern in other national and state races. The totals votes reported from the Sanpete County went up, but the percentages stayed the same within 1 percent.

            In Congressional Dis­trict 4, the lead in the dis­trict see-sawed back and forth between Democrat Ben McAdams and Repub­lican Burgess Owens. As of Monday night, McAdams was back in the lead.

            The only ballot item where there was some doubt about the outcome on election night was the Mt. Pleasant RAP (recre­ation-arts-parks) tax.

            Based on updated numbers, the measure passed. As of  Mon­day night, the vote was 764 “for” and 710 “against.”

            Updated totals showed the Ephraim RAP tax pass­ing easily, 1,207 to 677.

            Numbers have changed but not the outcome of the race between Reed Hatch, a Republican, and Larry Smith, of the Utah United Party, for the Sanpete Coun­ty Commission.

            On election night, Hatch had 8,765. By Monday, his total was up to 9,055. Smith’s total went from 2,479 to 2,587.

            One of the most tedious aspects of the job for Neill and her staff is reviewing write-in votes. By state law, the clerk only has to count write-in votes for people who register as write-in can­didates before the election.

            There were registered write-in candidates for pres­ident governor and Con­gress in District 4. Voters cast 564 write-in votes in those races. So Neill’s staff had to check each of the bal­lots where someone cast a write-in vote to determine if the name written in was one of the registered candidates.

            The biggest issue in administration of the election was the company that printed most of the ballots failing to print the critical signature line on the inside flap of the ballot envelope.

            With no signature line, many voters sent their bal­lot   s in unsigned. Yet the law requires ballots to be signed in order to be counted.

            Word of the error and how to sign a ballot without the signature line got out through social media, radio and the Messenger. In addition, the ballot printing com­pany sent a postcard people could sign and include in their ballot envelope, or mail separately from their ballot.

            As of Friday, Neill said she had 45 to 50 ballots that still hadn’t been signed. She said her staff was doing ev­erything it could think of to contact the voters involved and ask them to come in and sign. The clerk even offered the option of signing a piece of paper, taking a picture of the signature, and texting it in.

            Neill said she had re­ferred the issue of how much of the ballot printing com­pany’s bill to pay, or whether to decline to pay it at all, to the county attorney.