Washington County Utah takes a step in the right direction toward election reform!

counting ballots

The St George News reported that the Washington County Commissioners are requesting the Utah Lt Governors office and Utah Legislature begin looking at options for election reform that would include greater transparency. Thank you Commissioner Adam Snow, Commissioner Victor Iverson, and Commissioner Gil Almquist for taking steps to start the conversation to balance county powers and election transparency! Thank you to all the people of St George who have spoken out about your concerns regarding our elections and elections transparency!

Some highlights and key points will be in this post, but I strongly recommend you read it for yourself here.

We believe we have a responsibility to demonstrate the fairness and accuracy of the elections process. Under Utah State Law, we do not have the authority to take this action on our own.

I want local government running our elections!

Elections were designed to be for the people, by the people. Let's make sure that any legislative changes keep this in mind! Utah does not need knee-jerk reaction legislation. I look forward to future discussion about the election audits, independent third-party access, and an election commission. Washington county is not the only county to bring this up for discussion. Utah county Commissioners have as well.

While this letter calls for more local authority, it also asks for more state oversight.

to enlist a reputable third-party auditor to validate the accuracy of the ballot counter machines with a sample hand count as part of the audit process

Is third-party going to be an answer to restore public trust in our elections? Or does adding another contractor completely miss the public outcry for election transparency? For me, I do not have lack of trust in our local election offices to conduct our election audits. In fact the opposite is true. I want local, county election staff/workers conducting a public audit. I have a problem with the procedures and lack of local authority to make decisions in the audit process. I have a problem that the board of canvassers and candidates are not able to receive data and access election materials to verify these results themselves.

The second suggestion by the Washington County Commissioners is to establish an Election Commission. This was proposed in the 2005 legislative session with HB200. Sadly, you can no longer read the proposed bill. It is important to remember that November 2020 was not the first time questions have been raised about the voting machines and accuracy of our elections. It is imperative to look to past legislation to see what was proposed, what worked, what did not and WHY.

Best of intentions does not always equal best results.

Now it is time to listen carefully, ask questions, and critically read any proposed changes to our election laws in 2023. Please do not fall for appeasement! Please look carefully, closely, and thoughtfully at any implementation of third-party auditors.

Just because a conversation is began with legislators, county clerks, and others to support changes does not automatically make it good for election transparency—it could very well add another layer of third-party, private companies or NGOs that the people must trust without verification or accountability. Keep the goal in mind: transparency and accountability to the people. Keep it simple, stupid is a popular saying for a reason.

Be watchful and really look at the details about contracting audits and election processes to a third-party. Isn’t this what all the fuss is about right now? Vendor contracts, proprietary data, etc? Analyze carefully if access to election data, election returns and election materials to the people is restricted further or if the changes increase transparency.

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Do the proposed changes provide verifiable transparency to the public?

  2. Do the changes allow the public to see and verify the results and information?

  3. Who are the third parties and election commission accountable to?

  4. Who appoints the election commissioners? Who decides on the third-party contractor?

  5. Are there conflict of interests, relationships or connections to election system vendors, VSTLs, NGOs, etc.?

  6. Do the third-parties have to provide public records? If so who holds them accountable for this and what are the consequences of not providing records to the public? Are the records to be available online or by request?

I am sure many more questions will come up as discussion progress. Remember the goal is election verification!

Greatest trust is at the local level!

My concern about elections are not a lack of trust in our local leaders and people in our counties and cities of Utah—it is centralized elections, private companies who do not have transparency and accountability to the people, and NGO influence.

I want local, decentralized elections. I want the people who are elected to conduct elections, people on staff in our election offices, people working elections, people watching elections, and election auditors to be local people who can be “looked in the eye” as the saying goes. Meaning local people who live, work and serve in their communities. Local people that can be contacted directly with questions or for information. Ultimately its is “we the people”—keep elections local!

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