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Colby Jenkins sues Washington County Clerk over uncounted ballots

Colby Jenkins
Posted at 3:41 PM, Jul 05, 2024

ST. GEORGE, Utah — Congressional candidate Colby Jenkins has filed a lawsuit against the Washington County Clerk, seeking access to uncounted ballots.

In a petition filed in St. George's 5th District Court on Friday, Jenkins' campaign sought a judge's order to force Washington County Clerk Ryan Sullivan to produce "the names or address of voters whose ballots have been rejected and not yet resolved." It's so the campaign can attempt to contact those voters and attempt to cure the ballots. Monday is the deadline for that, as the canvass — where the election is certified — is Tuesday.

Jenkins is in a still-too-close-to-call race for the Republican nomination for Utah's 2nd Congressional District against Congresswoman Celeste Maloy. As of Friday night, she led Jenkins by 314 votes.

"As of Wednesday July 3, 2024, there were 531 ballots in Washington County that were rejected because poll workers deemed that the signature on the ballot did not match the signature on the voter registration records and the voters had not yet cured the error the poll workers perceived," the Jenkins campaign's petition states.

An uncured ballot is usually one with a minor error such as a signature that doesn't appear to match and election workers must verify it is yours.

But Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke argued in a filing that the Jenkins campaign is not entitled to the cure list, saying their petition "is based entirely on a misinterpretation of a provision of the Utah Election Code."

"A county clerk has the discretion under state law to decide whether to provide the requested ballot cure lists. That position is supported by the plain language of the statute and by legislative history," Clarke wrote.

In a statement late Friday, Sullivan said not releasing the uncured ballots list was a matter of voter privacy.

"I don’t want to release voter information to campaign volunteers only to have them show up at a voter’s doorstep and potentially harass them into disclosing who they voted for. Voter anonymity is a bedrock principle of our constitutional system, and releasing cure lists, especially in smaller counties and close races, could result in people’s votes not being private," he said.

Washington County also pushed back saying no other county clerk — except Salt Lake County — has agreed to hand over to a political campaign their list of uncured ballots. The county also said its election staff had already reached out to the voters with uncured ballots to offer them a chance to remedy things.

Court records show Judge Jay Winward has scheduled an emergency hearing on Monday to hear arguments in the case.