Unified Police Department hired to secure SLCo drop box ballots

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SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4) – Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen is taking a different approach to make sure votes and her staff are secure during the 2021 Municipal Election.

In 2020, a man seen with an armed rifle walked through the Salt Lake County Government Center while folks were voting. Officials tell ABC4 they were at multiple voting locations in the county.

Judy Barnett works for the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office. She and her work partner were accosted at a voting location while they tried to pick up votes at drop boxes.

“I think it is really concerning that we’ve come this far. It kinds of breaks my heart actually,” she says. “It breaks my heart it does, I’m ashamed of what’s going on.”

Barnett says things became uncomfortable when self-proclaimed poll watchers showed up at polling locations.

“People were taking pictures of us. We felt like many of them were following us. So I just think there is some element out there that just made us uncomfortable,” she adds. “I’ve never seen the disrespect that they have for the system, that our government has put forth and that is the ability to vote. That your vote counts.”

To keep poll workers safe and secure votes, Clerk Swensen hired 44 Unified Police Officers for roughly $15,000. A price that comes from taxpayers funding to transport voters’ ballots.

“They will be securing ballot boxes and making sure those ballot boxes make it safely to the County Clerk’s Office,” says Unified Police Sergeant Melody Cutler. “We are going to provide that security to make sure that our freedoms are protected.”

Officials will continue to collect ballots across 22 County Voting Centers until 8 pm Tuesday.

Sgt. Cutler adds, “Obviously it is something very important and it’s been on a lot of Americans minds, and not to leave out Salt Lake County wanting to make sure that our elections are secure and our elections are maintained.”

Shortly after 8 pm, Clerk Swensen plans to release some of the unofficial voting results. It’s expected nearly 25 percent of Salt Lake County will vote in the 2021 election.

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