Staffers leery of Dopp’s lobbying
May 17, 2006
City Hall officials apparently did not have a problem when Kathy Dopp showed up last Monday for a demonstration of Summit County’s new touch-screen voting machines.
But when she started popping into offices of city staffers, Dopp, a candidate for Summit County clerk, apparently made people with the government leery.
Park City Attorney Mark Harrington reports Dopp went through City Hall giving out a flier with information about Diebold Election Systems, the manufacturer of the controversial voting machines.
She is seen at City Hall frequently, Harrington says, and during the demonstration, Dopp "on and off continued to give her side of the Diebold machines," according to Harrington.
That was problematic, the city attorney says, because City Hall does not allow its staffers to participate in electioneering while they are working. Listening to Dopp’s spiel about the machines is characterized as political activity, Harrington says.
He says that some City Hall workers complained about Dopp’s activities during the demonstration and he asked Dopp to, "refrain from going into individual workplaces and (distributing) campaign information."
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Dopp this week acknowledges that she should not have been pressing staffers at City Hall with her concerns about the Diebold machines but said she was not campaigning on Monday when she spoke to people.
"I’m open and honest. I made that mistake out of ignorance," Dopp says, adding that her campaign has not yet launched.
She says she dropped off fliers at the Legal, Public Affairs, Planning and Building departments and the mayor’s office and KPCW. However, she says that the staffers were not interested in discussing the voting machines with her.
"No one took any time to talk to me," she says.
The voting machines have become the premier issue in the county clerk campaign and they are expected to dominate the politicking through Election Day.
Critics like Dopp charge that the touch-screen voting can be manipulated and that there is not enough evidence afterward to conduct a proper audit. The company disagrees and claims that its security is adequate.
Dopp says that she worries about the tallies being tinkered with and that votes will be counted toward candidates that voters do not pick. Election operatives, she charges, can tamper with votes without being detected.
She claims that the media is not properly addressing the concerns and that she is appalled with the media coverage of the touch-screen machines. Dopp categorizes questions about her activities at City Hall during the demonstration as "trivial stuff" compared to the Diebold issues, which, she says, are a "serious attack on American democracy."
The Statehouse mandated that the machines be used in Utah elections starting this year and they are expected to make their local debut during June 27 primaries.
Dopp acknowledges that she spoke to two or three people at the demonstration who were not City Hall workers, briefly addressing the machines and giving them fliers.
She says she attended the demonstration because it offered her an opportunity to pass out fliers. She does not currently plan to attend more voting-machine demonstrations but did not rule out going to more.
Mayor Dana Williams spoke to Dopp briefly during the demonstration and took one of her fliers. He said he was among those who spoke to the city attorney about Dopp. He said it is not appropriate for candidates to approach staffers at their offices.
"Lobbying during the workday is not furthering the work of the city," Williams said.
Summit County Clerk Sue Follett, whose re-election bid ended after she did not receive enough votes at the April Summit County Democratic Party convention, plans to hold the demonstrations through the primary. At least three each week starting in late May will be scheduled, she has said.
Dopp is awaiting the winner of the Democratic nomination. Cindy LoPiccolo, the senior recorder for City Hall, and Kent Jones, the former county clerk, are competing for the party’s nod. They face each other in a primary. No Republican is seeking the office.
The winner will be sworn in for a four-year term in January.
Follett and Dopp during the demonstration were seen in a back-and-forth debate and Follett says they were discussing election laws and she says she was ignoring Dopp’s discussions with others.
"I wasn’t listening to her conversations with the people." Follett said