OGDEN — With voting culminating Tuesday, law enforcement officials in Weber County plan to beef up their presence.
No particular threats have emerged, but given the passion this cycle — notably among partisans in the U.S. presidential race — officials want to be ready.
“We just want to make sure we have enough staff do deal with any incident that may arise,” said Weber County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Courtney Ryan.
Ogden Police Chief Randy Watt issued a statement on Friday sounding a similar message.
The department doesn’t anticipate disruption, but just in case “we are placing additional officers in the field starting on Nov. 2 and through a date later to be decided,” Watt said. “The additional officers will ensure that all persons have access to polling places, that all polling places in Ogden city are safe and can be operated without fear of threats or coercion and that no persons disrupt or block legal and constitutional activities by citizens.”
Similarly, the Utah Attorney General’s Office issued a statement Monday calling on the public to report any voter intimidation they experience.
“Incidents of intimidation or fraud have historically been very rare in Utah, especially since most people vote by mail,” said the statement. Things like voter intimidation or fraud, though, “will not be tolerated.”
The Attorney General’s Office called on the public with voting concerns to speak to officials at in-person election sites or to call 911 for emergencies or “physically dangerous situations.” Nonemergency concerns, the statement said, should be reported to state elections officials at 801-538-1041 or the Attorney General’s Office at 801-381-6168.
The New York Times and The Associated Press reported that some locales across the country were readying for potential disruption on Tuesday as well as a precaution.
TURNOUT SO FAR
OF 64%-68%Weber County has asked the public to vote via mail as a safeguard against the spread of COVID-19. Ryan Cowley, director of the county election office, said Monday that 70,000 of 125,000 ballots mailed out have been returned and processed. Another 10,000-15,000 have been received and await processing, making for turnout thus far including those ballots of 64%-68%, with more ballots coming Tuesday.
Weber County will operate an in-person election site on Tuesday at the Weber County Fairgrounds, printing ballots for those who need them and instructing those voters to return to their cars or another location to fill them out. Voting across the state on Tuesday goes from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. and the in-person Weber County location is at Exhibition Hall at the fairgrounds, 1000 N. 1200 West, Ogden. Weber County voters may also drop off their ballots at any of 20 drop boxes around the county until 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Meantime, local party officials are nearing the end of what has been, at least nationally, a tumultuous cycle. “We’re just trucking along for one more day,” Lacy Richards, chairperson of the Weber County Republican Party, said late Monday afternoon.
Zach Thomas, head of the Weber County Democratic Party, said party volunteers would be calling Democrats who still hadn’t voted as of Tuesday as part of a last-minute get-out-the-vote effort.
Both parties are planning to participate in virtual, online activities involving candidates and other party activists on Tuesday as returns start rolling in.
In other election developments, President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted a “complete and total endorsement” of Republican 1st District U.S. House candidate Blake Moore. Moore, Trump said, is strong on jobs, the economy, health care, the military and the Second Amendment.
Darren Parry is the Democratic contender in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, the GOPer from Brigham City who’s not seeking reelection.
Utah Rep. Lou Shurtliff posted a message to Facebook on Sunday decrying a message campaign against her by the Utah Republican Party that implied she favored a tax hike on groceries that was part of a GOP-led overhaul of the state’s taxation system. She actually opposed it, like the rest of the Democratic delegation in the state legislature, while GOPers favored it, though lawmakers later repealed the overhaul containing the tax hike.
“The facts are that I voted against the tax increase on food and gas. This style of negative campaigning has no place in politics, especially up here in Weber County,” Shurtliff wrote. She faces a challenge from Republican Travis Campbell, who has denounced the messaging effort by the state party.
Locally, the 1st District U.S. House seat and several seats in the Utah Legislature are up for grabs, among others. More voting information is on the Weber County Elections Office website at weberelections.com.