GOP lawmaker alleges fraud in Utah primary election. State says otherwise



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — A Republican state lawmaker raised a question about fraud in Utah's GOP primary election in an inflammatory social media post over the weekend, but state officials say every voter — all eight of them — was able to cast a ballot for their preferred candidates.

Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, posted on Facebook early Sunday morning that he had several "reports" from people who claimed a voting machine changed their in-person vote for Sen. Mike Lee to Becky Edwards. Lyman, who tried to get rid of the state's mail-in voting system after making claims of election anomalies during the 2020 presidential election, offered no proof, but wrote, "Utah Voter Fraud?" over an image of the American flag.

Edwards and Ally Isom are challenging Lee in Tuesday's GOP primary election.

The Utah Lieutenant Governor's Office, which oversees elections in the state, saw social media posts alleging irregularities and looked into the claim. Ryan Cowley, state elections director, said only eight voters in Wasatch County had used the machine.

"From everything that we've seen, the votes were recorded correctly for those voters," Cowley told KSL-TV and KSL Newsradio.

Cowley said the touch-screen ballot marking devices were set to a smaller font size to get all the races on one screen, squeezing the boxes close together. The font size has now been enlarged to make it easier for voters to make their choices, he said.

Voters are given three opportunities to verify their selections, including a printed receipt, before the vote is cast, Cowley said. If a voter wants to make a correction, poll workers can spoil the ballot and give them a new one.

Joey Granger, Wasatch County clerk-auditor, said two of those eight voters asked for help from poll workers in using the machines.

"There were some issues but the poll workers were able to resolve it and the people confirmed that the ballots printed out the votes that they had wanted," she told KSL. "I was unaware until the social media posts ... that somebody was a little disgruntled about the experience."

Granger said no one said that they had marked the ballot for Lee and it showed up as Edwards.

Edwards called Lyman's claim of election fraud a "blatant and shameless" attempt to undermine the integrity of Utah elections.

"The right to vote is a cornerstone of our democratic republic, and Utahns should be deeply concerned, as I am, about false claims of election fraud. Extremists use this tactic in an attempt to sow seeds of doubt and ultimately dispute any result they disagree with," Edwards tweeted.

Isom tweeted at Lyman saying, "Your weekend conspiratorial texts about election security sent to Utah voters is what extreme voices do to politics. We need more straight talk from leaders, not more stunts. This further emphasizes the need for Utah to know their voice and vote matter."

Edwards also called on Lee to condemn the false claims of election fraud.

"As we look forward to Election Day, our campaign has every confidence in Utah's elected county clerks and the lieutenant governor's office to oversee free and fair elections," Lee campaign spokesman Matt Lusty said in a statement. "We thank them for their service."

In his social media post, Lyman said more concerning is the possibility of votes shifting after the receipt is printed.

"The machines are programmed with functionality to do exactly that ... switch votes," he wrote. "We are finding evidence that the software absolutely has a back door."

Cowley said he doesn't know what Lyman is talking about. "I'm not aware of any back door," he said, adding that an audit of the ballots is conducted after the election to verify they were counted accurately.

Utahns, Cowley said, can be confident the state conducts secure elections.

Lyman told KSL that he made the social media post to find out if anyone else was having an issue.

"I really wasn't trying to stir up any controversy, but I want to find out if this is happening and get it resolved," he said.

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Utah electionsState of UtahUtahPolitics
Dennis Romboy
Dennis Romboy is an editor and reporter for the Deseret News. He has covered a variety of beats over the years, including state and local government, social issues and courts. A Utah native, Romboy earned a degree in journalism from the University of Utah. He enjoys cycling, snowboarding and running.

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