DUCHESNE — Duchesne County registered voters received their ballots in the mail this week, ahead of the June 30 primary election that will decide which candidates advance in important races like the one for governor and for retiring Rep. Rob Bishop's 1st Congressional District seat.
But they were in for a surprise when they opened the letters, as a mishap caused registered Republicans to receive Democratic ballots, and vice versa.
The mixup led some residents to voice their concerns on social media and to the press. Roosevelt resident Gary R. Nelson called the incident "very disturbing."
"I just thought, you know, this is pretty precarious, and this is not right," Nelson told KSL.com. "And this problem is, this happened a couple years ago in our county again, with a mail-in thing, so it's a little frustrating."
KSL.com reached out to the office of county clerk/auditor JoAnn Evans on Friday afternoon and found that the office had a prerecorded voicemail addressing the error.
This is pretty precarious, and this is not right.
–Gary R. Nelson, Roosevelt resident
"If this is regarding the ballots and the wrong party, our printing company has made an error and they are currently working on fixing the problem," the message says. "You will be receiving a new ballot with the correct affiliation in the mail next week.
"If you do not receive a ballot by Friday, the 19th of June, please give us a call back and we will fix that for you. Thank you, and we are sorry for the inconvenience."
Nelson said the clerk's office told him the mixup impacted all registered Republicans and Democrats in the county. Nelson was advised to shred his first ballot, he said.
While mail-in voting has not been shown to cause widespread voter fraud, experts say it is inherently less secure than in-person voting. President Donald Trump, in particular, has become a vocal critic of voting by mail, though red-state Utah has been an early adopter of the practice.
When ballots are reissued in Utah, the first batch is marked as "spoiled" and cannot be accidentally counted.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the June 30 primary has shifted almost entirely to vote-by-mail in Utah.