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Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah's top election official, is suing to overturn results of the Wayne County Commission GOP primary election last month, contending the winner was helped illegally by his wife, who is the deputy county clerk.

Cox filed suit in 6th District Court, asking it to vacate the election in which David Brinkerhoff defeated Gary Hallows by 55 votes. Third-place finisher Bart Albrecht trailed by 260 votes.

The suit asks the court to take away Brinkerhoff's win and allow — as permitted by state law — the Republican Party to choose another candidate for the general election. The replacement method is the state's only recourse, according to Cox's office, and another primary will not be held. The state is conducting a criminal investigation into the Brinkerhoffs' alleged actions.

The lawsuit says Brinkerhoff's wife, Deputy County Clerk Coral Brinkerhoff, used "her official position to improperly change voter affiliations" to allow some people to vote as Republicans, and used her position improperly "to determine who had, or had not, voted by mail" and called some to urge them to vote for her husband.

Activities by the Brinkerhoffs "caused great concern amongst the voters of Wayne County," the suit says, "some of whom declined to vote due to fear that" the Brinkerhoffs "would be able to see how the voter cast their ballot."

It adds that an investigation found that Coral Brinkerhoff made changes to the status of 21 percent of active registered voters during the election. It says many affiliation changes did not have supporting documents.

The deputy county clerk hand-delivered voter-registration cards to many voters to allow them to change party affiliations, the suit alleges, and then carried the cards back to the clerk's office rather than the normal procedure of having them appear in person or request a change by mail.

The suit says she annotated in computer systems that those people had appeared in person. It adds that she personally filled out 12 voter registration cards for others, which were not signed by individuals named.

A phone call to the Brinkerhoffs for reaction was not immediately returned.

The lawsuit also alleges that workers overheard Coral Brinkerhoff calling a voter and saying she knew she should not be talking, but she noticed the voter had not yet cast a ballot and had not affiliated with a political party. She asked the voter to consider affiliating as a Republican.

That voter later complained and avoided voting for fear that the Brinkerhoffs could figure out for whom that vote was cast.

Investigations showed that Coral Brinkerhoff had generated computer reports, not available to other candidates, showing who had or had not voted. The lawsuit says she acknowledged that she and her husband called voters the night before the election, urging them to get file their by-mail ballots, but she denied knowing whether any had voted.

"By using improperly obtained official information, which was not available to other candidates, respondent Coral Brinkerhoff's misconduct or corruption was sufficient to change the result of the election," the lawsuit says, adding that her husband was involved with the actions.

"As election officials, the voters entrust us to ensure our elections are administered with the utmost integrity," Cox said in a written statement. "Election misconduct will not be tolerated and will be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."