FARMINGTON -- After 30 years, Davis County Election Director Pat Beckstead is drawing the curtain on her vote-tallying career.
Beckstead, who started with the county in 1983 as a six-week temp covering for a clerk on maternity leave, through stellar work and professionalism rose through the ranks, the last handful of years leading the state of Utah into the electronic voting age.
An open house was held for Beckstead in the new Davis County Administration Building on Thursday.
Ironically, Beckstead's last act of official business last week was to present 15 contract agreements to the Davis County Commission, for the clerk's office to perform ballot-counting services for the Davis cities' Aug. 13 primary and Nov. 5 municipal elections.
This is the first year the county has provided municipal election services to all 15 Davis cities, Beckstead said.
"It has been an amazing experience for me," she said of her career. "I have worked with people that have made my job so enjoyable. Elections are addicting. It just gets into your blood."
Beckstead said she felt honored and blessed to have been with the county for so many years.
"We think a lot of things get done very well in Davis County, and elections is one of them," County Commissioner John Petroff Jr. said, praising Beckstead's work.
Besides sharing her job skills with the county, Beckstead also has been called on to share her knowledge of the election process with the state and neighboring counties, said Terry Tremea, chief deputy of administration for the Davis County Clerk's Office.
"Davis County has always been at the forefront (when it comes to managing elections)," Tremea said.
A major change that Beckstead was instrumental in implementing statewide was the introduction of the electronic voting system to replace the punch-card voting system.
In 2005, Davis County conducted the first election in the state using electronic voting equipment as part of a pilot program in the Farmington city election, Beckstead said.
The electronic voting machines were introduced statewide the following year to meet federal guidelines.
To serve its growing population, the county now has 933 electronic voting machines, some of which will be pulled from storage this summer and used for the Aug. 13 municipal primaries.
"When we went to the electronic equipment, that was the most difficult (period of time). That was pretty stressful for a couple of years. It was just a learning curve for us to change systems," Beckstead said. "It was an amazing challenge, an amazing time."
Other areas in the country struggled with using the punch-card ballots during the hotly contested 2000 U.S. presidential election, in turn bringing on the change to electronic voting equipment.
Looking back, Beckstead said, the electronic voting equipment has been an improvement over the old punch-ballot system used for decades.
But despite the success the state is having with the electronic voting equipment, Beckstead said, she envisions continual changes being made to the voting process as a result of the ever-evolving changes in technology.
"I don't think we are going to go 20 to 30 years ever again using the same system."
In the future, the county likely will also be faced with having to make changes in the voting method, with by-mail voting becoming more commonly used, she said.
After all, Beckstead would know.
Beckstead has set an example to follow into the future, said Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings.
But it was the grace with which Beckstead handled late-night, early-morning ballot counting that County Commissioner Louenda Downs always admired.
"I knew we had a good election if we didn't make the front page of the newspaper," Beckstead said, crediting her success to her co-workers and the support of the county commission over the years.
Beckstead said that, in retirement, she has plans to travel with her family.