OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Polling places across the state are gearing up for a busy Election Day. In Weber County, election workers are preparing for high turnout as well as ensuring voters and poll workers are safe, regardless of how they vote.
Election Day is tomorrow, but election workers in Weber County have already begun verifying the thousands of ballots that were returned to one of the official drop boxes across the county. By verifying the ballots before Election Day, they hope to have results as soon as possible.
By the end of the day, close to 50,000 ballots could be verified as official ballots in Weber County. Ballots are verified by checking the envelope identification number, which is issued through the elections office. The signature on the envelope is also checked to make sure it is the signature that coincides with the assigned number. “Not counting anything today,” Weber County Elections Director Lauren Shafer stated.
While verification may begin before Election Day, counting must wait, “and then we will just focus on scanning so we can get the most results out tomorrow night,” Shafer explained.
“We treat every ballot as though it could be the deciding ballot in any race,” Weber County Clerk and Auditor Ricky Hatch stated. “We’re very careful and one thing you don’t want to rush, well, brain surgery, and then elections.” Hatch spent Monday out at the Weber County Fairgrounds. The Exhibit Hall will be a polling location on Election Day. He, and a handful of others, set up voting tables, drop boxes and all the other equipment needed to make sure everyone who shows up to vote in person has what they need.
On Election Day, Hatch said they will take as much time as they need to make sure all votes are counted with virtually no margin of error. Results will start coming on Tuesday evening, but the election will not be verified for a couple weeks. Nonetheless, he said that because they make sure to carefully count all ballots, the results that come in on election night are usually pretty telling of the final result.
Along with taking precautions to carefully verify and count the votes, they’re also taking extra safety precautions. “We have had some threatening voicemails,” Hatch added.
Tensions from the 2020 election remain with election workers receiving threats over miscount and voter fraud concerns. Hatch emphasized that no one should be worried about voting. He said, “At the polling places, people are excited. They’re here, they’re happy, they want to follow the rules, they want everything to be safe, and unfortunately, you just have to plan for the one or two people that may not feel that way.”
According to Hatch, there is no eminent threat to the public. However, polling places will have police officers and all drop boxes are under video surveillance.
After your ballot is counted, other steps are taken to ensure that a miscount or voter fraud can be investigated if need be.
“We put them in a secure location nearby so that we can always get to them if we need them, but they get sealed up as soon as we’re done, sent to the secure location for 22 months and then they typically get destroyed,” Shafer explained. Currently, the state still has the ballots from the 2022 election. There is a legal hold on them at this time and they cannot be destroyed until that hold expires.
The elections office expects around 10,000 people to vote in-person at the Weber County Fairgrounds on Election Day. They hope to see a voter turnout of 80 percent. As of Monday morning, Lt. Governor Diedre Henderson said statewide voter turnout had already surpassed 30 percent.