Thousands of missing signatures for a proposed ballot initiative were found Wednesday, and now they need to be counted. It’s the latest in a wild ride attempting to get the Count My Vote initiative on the November ballot.
In a letter to Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said his office found an entire box—more than two thousand signatures—for the Count My Vote initiative that hadn’t been verified.
“I am sending these petition packets back to your office for immediate processing, and request you provide a written explanation as to why they were no processed by close of business today,” Cox wrote.
County clerks spent the last month verifying hundreds of thousands of signatures submitted by ballot initiative groups. They were required to send the processed signature packets to the state elections office by Tuesday, which is where the unverified signatures were discovered.
“There was a discrepancy between what Count My Vote had said they submitted and what the county had processed,” Cox said in an interview Wednesday. “The good news is that there’s a paper trail for all of this.”
Count My Vote wants to cement Utah’s dual-path election law, which allows candidates to get on the primary ballot by gathering signatures, attending their party’s nominating convention, or both.
"Utah's initiative process is a constitutionally-protected right,” said Taylor Morgan, executive director of Count My Vote. “Signing a petition is an act of voter participation which should be honored and respected. It's essential that every single signature be carefully reviewed and processed."
Opposition group Keep My Voice, which wants to strengthen Utah’s caucus-convention system by repealing the dual pathway, said Tuesday it submitted thousands of signature removal forms from voters in a last-ditch attempt to block the effort.
The newly discovered signatures throw into question whether Keep My Voice will be successful.
Opponents of the medical marijuana initiative also tried to derail that measure by canvassing for signature withdrawals.
State elections officials have until June 1 to certify which of the four citizen-led initiatives that submitted signatures will appear on the November ballot.
Cox said even though the Utah County signatures weren’t verified by the May 15 deadline, it shouldn’t delay the work his office is doing now.
“We have three other initiatives that we can work on while they’re finishing that up. It really shouldn’t set us back,” he said.