How Utah keeps mail-in voting secure

Posted at 8:49 PM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 22:54:54-04

SALT LAKE CITY— State and local election officials are encouraging everyone to vote by mail this year because of the pandemic.

People can still take ballots to official drop box locations, or even vote in-person at polling locations across the state. Election officials say the same security measures will remain in place to help protect ballots.

"We are well informed and are in a really good place to make sure we continue to have secure and successful elections," said Lannie Chapman, chief deputy clerk with Salt Lake County.

Utah has used vote by mail systems since 2013. State elections director Justin Lee said the security measures in place have been tested and are reliable.

"We have a whole bunch of security measures in place while voting is taking place," Lee said. "Before anything is certified, there is an audit done. Not only of the vote counts, but also of the signature verification."

To start, each ballot is printed with a unique barcode which is scanned when received.

"That gives [the] history for the voters, ensuring that only one ballot is accepted per voter," Chapman said.

Election officials then verify the signature contained in each ballot — "to make sure the signature we have on file matches the one on the envelope," Chapman added.

If everything matches up, officials then open the ballot and begin to process votes. Lee said the ballot Utahns receive in the mail is identical to the one they'd receive at a polling location.

"No one should come to the polls expecting to have a different experience than what you'll really have with a by mail ballot," he said.

People can still vote in person if they did not receive a ballot in the mail, or if they need any voting assistance.

"We're not going to turn anybody away who shows up to vote on Election Day," Lee said. "But we really are asking people to not show up in person unless they absolutely have to."

In order to dispel any doubts about the process, Salt Lake County has released a full visual guide that shows the path of every ballot. It also details the security measures taken once they are received.

Utahns can register to vote, check registration, find a ballot drop-off location or polling location and more at