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Utah lawmaker sues over losing by 9 votes to election challenger

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Posted at 3:32 PM, Aug 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-15 19:09:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY — After losing his re-election bid by nine votes, Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville, has filed a lawsuit with the Utah Supreme Court contesting the election.

Rep. Brown contends that a number of ballots were not counted when they were, in fact, mailed before the deadline and were properly cast. He claims 70 mail-in ballots were rejected for not being postmarked in time for the deadline, but the U.S. Postal Service did not affix any indicator when they were mailed the day before.

Instead, the ballots were collected in rural parts of the state and sent to Salt Lake City where they were postmarked too late to count.

Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville. (Photo courtesy Utah House Majority Caucus)

Rep. Mel Brown, R-Coalville. (Photo courtesy Utah House Majority Caucus)

“(Rep. Brown) has verified this is the regular practice of the U.S. Postal Service by personally mailing a number of letters to himself in the afternoon from a number of different locations in these counties on July 28, 2016 (mailed from Henefer, Echo, Coalville, Peoa, Oakley, Kamas, Francis, Park City main and Park City Kimball Junction),” his attorneys wrote. “ALL of these letters returned postmarked in Salt Lake on July 29, 2016.”

Rep. Brown also claims another 32 ballots presumably did not have matching signatures, which he is challenging. He is suing Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox and the county clerks for Duchesne, Daggett, Morgan, Rich and Summit counties, which comprise his legislative district.

Brown claims that if the contested ballots were counted, he would defeat his intra-party challenger, Logan Wilde.

The Lt. Governor’s Office ruled against Brown when he challenged the results of the election, indicating the U.S. Postal Service was unwilling to certify the ballots were mailed the day before the deadline. Rep. Brown also contends that county clerks did not contact every voter with a questionable ballot to determine if their signature matches.