Rolly: Study calls Utah vote devices unreliable

This is an archived article that was published on in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A just-completed study on voting systems reports that Utah may be one of the states ripe for failures that could throw the election into confusion.

Does that mean a Democrat could actually win an election in Utah County?


Joe Demme, of the Lieutenant Governor's Office, says the study done by New York University's Brennan Center for Justice is "one of the most poorly done research papers on elections that I have read in four years."

He says the conclusions are faulty and the researchers appear not to have read the information the lieutenant governor sent them on Utah's system.

Nonetheless, the study concludes there is more of a chance for election screw-ups in Utah than in Florida or Ohio.

It ranks Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Colorado and Virginia as the states most likely to have a problem with voting machines.

Utah is one of the states lacking a requirement for emergency paper ballots to be available in case voting machines fail, the report said. Utah, along with Texas and Virginia, needs to improve its methods for accounting for all the ballots after the polls close, it said.

Demme says while the law does not require back-up paper ballots, the county clerks will have those in case they are needed. He also said Utah has a good auditing system in place to account for the accuracy of voting.

Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk lost his job a couple of years ago after he sounded alarm bells over Utah's new electronic voting machines. He first resigned in frustration when nobody would pay attention to him, then was barred from returning to his elected post after changing his mind.

After all, he learned, you don't question authority in Utah.

Tourist attraction? You hear a lot about campaign signs being stolen or vandalized during election season.

But here's something you don't see very often.

RaDene Hatfield, the Democrat who is challenging Republican Sen. Curt Bramble in Provo, has written on her campaign blog about her disappointment in the vandalism of campaign signs she has seen.

But she's not talking about her campaign signs. She's talking about Bramble's.

"Returning home from an errand," she wrote, "I saw that many of my opponent's signs in our neighborhood had been vandalized. An expensive banner hanging on his fence was slashed and removed. Signs were taken off their stakes. Another was spray-painted. This action makes me sick."

She asked that anyone involved in the vandalism to "do what is right. Restore [the signs] and apologize."

Government immunity? Molly Law was driving north on 3000 East at 9:30 a.m. Thursday with her two children in the car, preparing to turn left onto westbound 6200 South.

She was the first car in the left-turn lane when the light turned green, but she hesitated going into the intersection because the car next to her didn't move. She paused, thinking the driver had car trouble.

It's a good thing she did.

The other driver didn't have car trouble. He just noticed something she did not.

Suddenly, a Salt Lake County work truck heading west at a high speed ran the red light and barreled through the intersection.

His truck had the number 16220 on the passenger side door.