Scammers and rubes continue to promote election lies and election workers face fury, writes Robert Gehrke.
She showed up at Herriman Town Hall with a chip on her shoulder, furious at a supposedly stolen election and insisting there was no way she was going to vote by mail .
Amplified by a drumbeat of lies about voter fraud, she demanded a paper ballot. The only problem: paper ballots aren’t used in Salt Lake County, or most of the state.
She wasn’t going to let that stop her. After all, she believed in electoral fraud, which does not exist either. So she expressed her frustration on the election officials who forwarded the matter to the clerk’s office.
The other line staffer attempted to explain her options – all unsatisfactory – before passing the angry voter directly to County Clerk Sherrie Swensen who explained that, if she wanted to vote on paper, the only option was to fill in the mail. ballot and drop it off at the polling station.
Certainly not. “That would be fraud,” the woman said.
It wasn’t fraud, Swensen insisted and offered to let her come see how the ballots are secured and counted, but the woman is growing increasingly upset.
“Honestly, in the 31 years that I’ve been here, no one has ever spoken to me like that,” Swensen told me on Wednesday. “She went on to tell me that I did all this fraud and ‘They’re going to get me.’ It was just amazing.
Swensen should be removed from office, the voter said, and when Swensen announced she would be retiring at the end of the year, the woman repeated her warning several times: “We’re going to get you.”
“It was way beyond, ‘We don’t believe in your system,'” Swensen said. “It felt like it was a real threat.”
“It was just unsettling how crazy these people are,” Swensen said.
Swensen forwards the call to a U.S. Justice Department task force created to investigate threats against election officials.
“A threat to any election official, worker or volunteer,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said at the task force’s launch last year, “is a threat to democracy.”
That should tell you something that this task force is even needed.
The Herriman voter appears to have operated on recommendations circulating on conservative social media channels and door hangers showing up at some Utah homes on how to avoid fraud. He advised keeping the absentee ballot as ‘evidence’ but going to a polling station and demanding that they print a new ballot and then watch it being counted.
All of this makes no sense. The only printed ballot is your mail-in ballot. And while you can track your vote online, you can’t actually watch your individual vote being counted.
But that doesn’t matter. In Sandy, a couple angry at fraud demanded that poll workers let them vote in person, even though they had already mailed a ballot. They refused to leave until the poll worker let them cast a provisional ballot – a ballot that will not be counted.
So in trying to avoid voter fraud, they committed voter fraud. The case is forwarded to the county attorney.
The confrontational tone and hostility were not limited to Salt Lake County. In Utah County, election officials reported a marked increase in the number of “grumpy” voters with bad attitudes showing up at the polls, insisting that “it’s all fraud anyway and everyone knows that,” county clerk Josh Daniels said.
On a Telegram group, supporters of 1st District challenger Andrew Badger were demanding a trial, saying Rep. Blake Moore couldn’t have been their nominee’s lead because Badger defeated him at the Republican convention and Moore, at their opinion, ran a bad campaign.
But Moore didn’t just beat Badger. He tore it down. Moore got more than twice as many votes as his challenger and there are three possible explanations: 1. Convention delegates are out of touch with average GOP voters; 2. Incumbents usually win because they have more money and notoriety; 3. All cheats!
Logic doesn’t matter. The evidence doesn’t matter.
If so, the lies should have ended with recent testimony from members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle that all allegations of fraud were thoroughly investigated and revealed. false – then repeated anyway to raise a quarter of a billion dollars for a voter fraud fund. it did not exist.
Yet the lies persist, perpetuated by the likes of Rep. Phil Lyman who claims to have a keen sense of detected ‘BS’ and flies around the country to conferences on voter fraud and last week spread false allegations according to which voting machines were changing votes by hurting Senator Mike Lee.
There may be a glimmer of hope. Clerks I spoke with said that over the past few weeks, legislative auditors have been extremely engaged in observing the electoral process in the run-up to the primary. I was not in favor of this audit at first, fearing that it would only give credibility to the lies. But maybe for some – those on the fence, not the true delusions – an independent analysis of the truth will end the matter.
Until then, the white-hot rage persists, split between two groups of people: the crooks who know it’s a lie and repeat it anyway to gain power or profit, and the gullible rubies.
Unfortunately, it is the election workers who do their best to nurture and facilitate our fundamental democratic tradition who end up bearing the brunt of this fury.
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