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Commission begins process to audit 2022 primary election

By Kelcie Hartley - | Jul 27, 2022

Kelcie Hartley, Daily Herald

Utah County commissioners, from left, Bill Lee, Tom Sakievich and Amelia Powers Gardner participate in a Utah County Commission meeting on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

The Utah County Commission decided Wednesday to create a Request For Proposal that will include “professional statistical auditing abilities” for the audit/statistical analysis of the 2022 Utah County primary election results during the regular meeting.

Commissioner Bill Lee led the discussion following the conversations the commissioners had at the Board of Canvassers meeting July 12.

“We as commissioners want fair and honest elections,” said Lee, who lost his reelection campaign to Brandon Gordon in June. “We want to be able to verify elections as much as possible without compromising the integrity of the election or compromising the machines. I think all those things are a part of the goal, and do I think that any of this will solve anything? No. I think it’s a step that will move us in a direction that will hopefully be helpful.”

Lee proposed a two-step process. The commissioners first discuss how they would proceed with having an audit done on the election results, then agreeing upon a plan to put into motion.

Paul Jones, a deputy Utah County Attorney, said he was unsure if audits could be done by an outside entity or if they must be done by the Utah County Elections Office.

“I think that anything like that would be good,” Lee said. “We do that already on the financial side. We do that already on the HR side. We hire out to look in, so I think those are helpful.”

All involved were unsure if election data became the property of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office after the results were certified.

Amelia Powers Gardner suggested taking a different approach, by hiring a third-party auditing firm first, asking them what information they would need to do the audit, how much would it cost and then deciding if it would be possible to proceed.

Lee said that was an excellent idea, but he preferred sending out a Request For Proposal (RFP) because it would provide the information needed and a cost estimate.

Commissioners then opened the floor for public comment. Many members of the public expressed similar concerns on election integrity and a lack of trust in government.

Provo resident Sylvia Andrew had issue with results of the primary election across the state. Andrew previously ran for Utah State Senate in Provo, partially by running against signature gathering to qualify for primary ballots.

“I just can’t believe that every single ‘America First,’ patriotic kind of person, everyone I know of, except Kira Birkeland, lost their primary races,” Andrew said. “I just can’t wrap my mind around it. It doesn’t make sense. It is vital that we have election integrity. I don’t trust machines either. There are people who have said in interviews that there are 15 ways to cheat the machines that we have. I agree with Bill Lee in hiring an independent audit because I think that will be a good start.”

Orem resident Sharon Anderson, said she’s been concerned with election processes since 2020.

“I understand the Lieutenant Governor has a lot of control and the county doesn’t have a lot of say, but what if Utah County got on board with in-person voting and using paper ballots? What if every other county in this state got on board with that? I think we could influence the Lieutenant’s office and the legislature,” she said.

Statistician Cindy Butler, who attempted to give a presentation on what the commissioners could do with record data at the Board of Canvassers meeting, also addressed the council on Wednesday.

“I think it’s fine to do those kind of things if you want to do your own check, and I think it’s fine to hire an outside firm to do those same audits, but it isn’t adequate,” Butler said. “It is impossible to detect mail-in-ballot stuffing or digital manipulation from those standard audits. It’s impossible. You have to have full context of all the data to detect those kinds of nefarious activities.”

In other business, Powers Gardner supported a resolution to designate the month of August as Utah County’s Breastfeeding month. August is also World Breastfeeding Month, and the first week of the month is World Breastfeeding Week.

Powers Gardner read from the resolution, stating that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, among Utah infants born in 2019, 86.5% were ever breastfed, but Utah County’s breastfeeding rates exceeded the state’s at 90.5%.

“Without a lactating consultant, I don’t know if I would have been able to breastfeed my son, and I used lactating support with all three of them,” Powers Gardner said. “Some things come more naturally for some over others, and for me, I struggled. I needed the help of a consultant, and we have some great ones in the county.”

She also addressed the formula shortages going on in the U.S. and the difficulties some mothers are facing to properly feed their children.

“I will be working with our health promotions with the health department throughout the month of August to ensure that BYU and UVU, malls and Provo Airport and these places have the areas that breastfeeding mothers can get the support that they need,” Powers Gardner said.

Commissioner Tom Sakeivich suggested to change a section of the resolution from “breastfeeding for the first six months of life” to “breastfeeding for the first six months after birth.” His reasoning comes from his position regarding the point where life begins. The resolution was unanimously approved after the change.


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