SALT LAKE CITY — As many across the nation call for easier access to vote by mail, Utah’s election system could serve as a model.
In 2012, the legislature gave individual counties the option to hold elections by mail. By 2018, each county jumped on board with the plan.
“The vote by mail system is very safe,” said Justin Lee, the Utah Director of Elections. “We haven’t seen anything that helps one party over another. both parties have been very favorable to vote by mail.”
According to Ballotpedia, Utah’s turnout in the 2014 midterm election was about 30 percent. Four years later, after more counties instituted vote by mail procedures, that number jumped to 52 percent.
Lee described the steps that are taken to prevent any voter fraud to ensure the results of Utah’s elections are legitimate.
“There are several safety features. Things that don’t allow the ballots to be copied. Things that don’t allow them to be duplicated,” Lee said. “Then when those ballots go back to the county clerks, the county clerks are verifying every signature that comes from the voters to make sure it matches the signature on file.”
If the clerk has an issue verifying a signature, they will contact the voter directly in an attempt to validate the ballot.
With the 2020 presidential election less than five months away and a second wave of COVID-19 expected to force more people to stay indoors, Lee wouldn’t be surprised to see more states adopt Utah’s model.
“I think there is going to be more vote by mail in the country, no question,” Lee said. “But some states require voters to have a reason to vote by mail.”