UPDATED: Ballots sent to Summit County voters with incorrect return envelope
When Kelly Cryts received her vote-by-mail ballot over the weekend, she couldn’t wait to fill it out. She immediately laid the ballot out on her coffee table, setting aside the return envelope, and began researching the candidates and ballot measures.
Cryts had to leave for the afternoon before she could complete her ballot. But, when she got home she noticed the return envelope laying on her table was addressed to the San Juan County clerk. Even her voter affidavit declared her to be a registered voter in San Juan County.
“At first I figured it wasn’t that big of a deal. But, when I saw the voter affidavit I thought, ‘I can’t sign that.’ That’s fraud,” she said. “That’s when I realized it was a big deal. What would happen if I mailed it? Would my vote still count?”
Cryts was one of at least approximately 130 registered Summit County voters who received election ballots over the weekend stuffed with return envelopes addressed to San Juan County. The Summit County Clerk’s Office was made aware of the error Monday morning.
The ballots were the last batch sent to registered voters ahead of Election Day, according to Kent Jones, county clerk. He said they were mailed last week and likely began arriving on Friday.
Summit County has contracted with a printing company based in Washington, K & H Printers, to produce the ballots since the vote-by-mail system was first implemented.
“When we send an extract to K & H printing, they print the ballot, the return envelope and mail it to the registered voter,” Jones said. “We never see them until they came back. We got about a half dozen calls from people concerned about their ballots. It’s frustrating and concerning.”
Jones blamed the mistake on the company choosing to manually stuff the last batch of envelopes.
“They send out hundreds of thousands of ballots for much of the western states,” he said. “It was only 131 ballots or so and they did it manually. Someone picked up the wrong stack of return envelopes.”
Several counties in the state use K & H printing, including Salt Lake County, Jones said. He said it is the county’s decision to select a printer. The county pays roughly $26,000 for the service.
“I’m sure we are going to have to have a sit down with them to talk about what happened,” he said. “They’ve done our ballots for three years and this is the first issue we’ve had. It’s not something that I’m going to throw daggers at them for. Anyone that tells you they run a perfect election is not telling the truth. Out of 25,000 ballots sent, we only had a problem with 131, not to under emphasize the problem.”
Voters who received the wrong return envelopes were told to cross out “San Juan County” and write in “Summit County.” The ballots could be placed in a Summit County drop box or hand-delivered to the Summit County Clerk’s Office. Envelopes returned to San Juan County will be forwarded to the Summit County Clerk and will be counted in the final election results. The official canvass of results is Nov. 20.
“We’ve had almost 10 come back in the drop boxes already,” Jones said on Monday.
Cryts contacted the Clerk’s Office after realizing she had the wrong ballot and was given similar instructions. She planned to return her ballot to a drop box in Kamas on Tuesday. But, admittedly, she is still uneasy about the whole situation.
“There is a huge deal going on in San Juan County and I felt really uncomfortable about receiving this, even if it was just an envelope,” she said, referring to a tense election season in San Juan County after a federal judge ordered districts to be redrawn amid allegations of racial gerrymandering. “I don’t want to be counted as a voter in San Juan County when it is such an important election.”
Cryts sympathized, though, and said she understands mistakes happen. But, she added, “It’s 2018. We really should be on top of this.”
“I want my vote counted on Election Day. That is what is really important to me,” she said. “You get paranoid about it.”
Drop boxes are located in Summit County in the following locations:
– Coalville City Hall, 10 N. Main St.
– Kamas Services Building, 110 N. Main St.
– Park City Municipal Building, 445 Marsac Ave.
– Sheldon Richins Building, 1885 W. Ute Blvd.
– Fresh Market (Jeremy), 3151 W. Kilby Road
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The Summit County unemployment rate dropped slightly in October, the state Department of Workforce Services reported.