Lawsuit filed against SL Co. clerk over potentially thousands of missing ballots

Posted at 8:10 AM, Nov 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-02 19:17:51-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A lawsuit has been filed against Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen over potentially thousands of ballots that haven't been sent to voters.

Rep. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, and Rozan Mitchell, the Republican candidate for Salt Lake County Clerk, sued Swensen late Thursday night in 3rd District Court. The lawsuit seeks to hold Swensen responsible for mail-in ballots not reaching voters by the Oct. 16 deadline.

"The timely mailing of absentee ballots is critical to conducting a proper election that reflects the deliberate and reasoned votes of citizens. Voters who opted to receive an absentee ballot may not receive one in time, or with enough time to make a deliberate and reasoned decision. Because Salt Lake County conducts absentee voting, the number of voting locations are limited. If thousands of voters do not timely receive their absentee ballot, it may result in serious consequences to the outcome of elections," the lawsuit states.

Swensen, a Democrat who is seeking re-election, has blamed the ballot's printers in Washington state for the issue. In an interview with FOX 13 on Friday, Swensen said 493,000 voters were mailed ballots in the initial wave ahead of that October 16 deadline. The printer delayed mailing an additional 5,500 until they could complete them, she said.

"People were all mailed a ballot, absolutely," she said. "Every registered voter."

The lawsuit seeks the names of voters who have not received ballots and an accounting of how many absentee ballots voters didn't get.

"What we really want here is just a list of who these people are and suddenly they say, well, they've all got their ballot," Mitchell told FOX 13. "That's fine. We still want the list. We want to know who these folks are. We want to reach out to them and make sure they know they have voting options."

A judge has scheduled a Monday hearing on the lawsuit. Mitchell said she is not seeking to delay the election, but wanted access to that list.

"We don't have a list of any such thing," Swensen said. "Our printer assured us they mailed ballots to all the individuals we ordered ballots for."

FOX 13 is told one option the judge could consider is delaying the deadline to return some ballots. That could impact the hotly contested 4th Congressional District race between incumbent Republican congresswoman Mia Love and her Democratic challenger, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams.

The Love campaign told FOX 13 it was watching the lawsuit closely. The south end of the Salt Lake Valley has a lot of Republican-leaning votes. The McAdams campaign had no comment.

Voters who do not receive their ballot can still do early voting at the Salt Lake County Government Complex until Nov. 5. Early voting will also be available at select locations across the Salt Lake Valley.

Get the list of early voting locations here.