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Weber County elections officials to open office to public as primary looms

By Tim Vandenack - | May 16, 2022

Tim Vandenack, Standard-Examiner

Weber County Clerk-Auditor Ricky Hatch, left, and Lauren Shafer, head of the county elections office, pose by a ballot-scanning machine in the county elections office in Ogden on Monday, May 16, 2022.

OGDEN — With the June 28 primary coming, Weber County Elections Office officials want the public to know they can count on the election results when they come out.

“We feel really confident about the controls we have. We want the public to have that same level of confidence,” said Ricky Hatch, who, as Weber County clerk-auditor, oversees the election process here.

To that end, the Weber County Elections Office, under the umbrella of the clerk-auditor’s office, is inviting the public to a presentation set for May 25, “Election Integrity Night.” Elections officials will field questions from the public about the voting and ballot-counting process and provide a tour of the elections office.

“With persistent allegations regarding election integrity, I encourage citizens to find out for themselves by learning the process and safeguards through speaking with those who actually administer elections,” Hatch said in a statement on Monday. The 2020 U.S. presidential vote sparked unfounded charges from President Donald Trump about fraud in the balloting process and he and many of his backers continue to levy the accusations.

The May 25 elections office presentation here will start at 6 p.m. in the County Commission chambers at the Weber Center, 2380 Washington Blvd. in Ogden. “We encourage all who are interested to come and ask whatever questions they may have. No question is off limits,” Hatch said.

Lauren Shafer, who heads the election office, said the presentation will cover everything from the voter registration process to vote counting to presentation of election results, including the safeguards, controls and security measures governing each step. Like Hatch, she expressed confidence in the security of the system used in Weber County, where mail-in balloting dominates, as in Utah as a whole.

“We’re really confident in the steps we take. We go above and beyond to be at the top of our game in election security,” Shafer said. Elections officials have held similar sessions with Weber County candidates for office.

Next week’s presentation comes about a month ahead of the June 28 primary, when voters are to weigh in on the contested Republican and Democratic races. Primaries in the U.S. Senate race on down will be on the ballot and with Utah leaning heavily Republican, the June 28 outcomes could be a precursor, in many cases, of the results in November.

Primary ballots are to be mailed out in early June.

At any rate, the Weber County Elections Office plans to hold similar open houses leading up to the Nov. 8 general election.

Shafer said her office does receive calls from the public wondering about election security, “but I wouldn’t say we’ve had a huge influx.”

Hatch said he sometimes fields calls from the public asking about supposed irregularities in other states. “We can’t speak to what other states do, but we can speak to Weber County,” he said.

Stacy Cornell, who works in the elections office, said when the public learns how the process works, it puts them at ease. “When we have a tour, they’re sold,” she said.

Among the primary races pertinent to Weber County voters are the U.S. Senate and 1st District U.S. House races, each with three GOP contenders. There are also contested Republican primaries in the races for the District 5 Utah Senate seat and the District 8, 10 and 11 Utah House races.

Republican voters will weigh in on primaries in the races for the seat A and B posts on the Weber County Commission. They’ll also vote in the clerk-auditor’s race. Hatch faces a challenge from Toby Mileski in the GOP primary.

There are no contested local races on the Democratic side in Weber County.

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