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Cox issues gentle reminder: Filling out ballot on behalf of your missionary, military son or daughter is voter fraud

Local (Utah/State News)

Gubernatorial candidate says voter fraud is rare in Utah, but many times it's well-meaning missionary moms who commit it

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The road to voter fraud hell is paved with good intentions.

Parents of students studying abroad, as well as parents of young military members and even full-time Latter-day Saint missionaries, might think they are doing their child a favor by casting their ballot on their behalf.

But it’s voter fraud.

The issue came up last week when gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox was asked by a constituent at a town hall meeting about his concerns surrounding voter fraud and meddling from foreign governments.

Cox said the culprits are sometimes well-meaning parents who sign their absentee child’s ballot for them. Elections officials confirmed to ABC4 News Monday they have had to educate parents when they receive ballots that were obviously signed by parents on behalf of children serving missions or on military assignments overseas.

“Sometimes it’s parents of missionaries who are potentially very well- meaning, but they get that ballot … they’ll email their kid and say ‘Who do you want to vote for?’ and then they will fill it out for them – which is illegal,” Cox said.

“It’s rarely intentional and it’s not widespread,” said Cox. That’s why election fraud charges are rarely brought against such parents, he added.

Still, doing so could land you in jail and with a $2,500 fine.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen said the problem is rare, but it does happen sometimes.

“If the signature doesn’t match – the signature we have in our database on our record – we let them know that it doesn’t match, we don’t count the ballot,” said Swensen.

Swensen said confusion about how mail-in ballots work is sometimes the reason behind the issue and added there are ways to make sure a person living overseas can vote legally.

“We can have them contact us and let us know where they want the ballot sent,” said Swensen. She also said ballots can be e-mailed to the individual living overseas if they contact the elections office.

In fact, just last month, Utah County launched a pilot program that allows military members and missionaries overseas to vote using their smartphone.

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Glen Mills

Chief Political Correspondent

For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 Utah team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 Utah News at 4 Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time.. Read More...

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