in Utah County had more than a one in five chance that their ballots did
not get counted in the initial, unofficial tally from Election Day.
programming glitch in the punch-card counter dropped 33,000 ballots from
the totals - all of them straight-party ballots. That was more than 22
percent of the 145,769 ballots cast in the Republican stronghold.
card readers were fine; it was just the way it was programmed
initially," Utah County elections coordinator Kristen Swensen said
Friday. "It was just off by one letter."
ballots were recounted Wednesday and the 33,000 missing votes were
distributed to the candidates for whom they were cast.Despite the
large amount of votes involved,the goof - and subsequent fix -
did not change the outcome in any race, Swensen said.
Utah County Democratic Party Chairman Vaughn Cook was incredulous Friday
when he learned about the ballot blunder.
thousand votes?" Cook asked. "That's something we'll have to
pay attention to as the Democratic Party . . . strives to create an
environment where there is more political balance in Utah County.
Subsequent elections could be a lot tighter, and 33,000 votes would be
much more significant to us."
it is, the new vote tally further underscores the GOP's dominance in Utah
recount means that when the official canvass is made Monday in Utah
County, President Bush will have vacuumed up 123,752 votes in the state's
second most populous countyinstead of the 95,039 initially
reported. Democratic nominee John Kerry, meantime, picked up 16,641 votes
- up nearly 5,000 from the original tally.
the governor's race, Republican Jon Huntsman Jr.'s total in
the county swelled from 73,635 to 103,618, while Democrat Scott Matheson
Jr.'s votes increased from 32,579 to 37,566.
Republican congressional challenger John Swallow closed the gap against
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, in the 2nd Congressional District with the
recount, but not nearly enough to make a difference. Swallow picked up an
extra 5,817 votes in the recount to Matheson's additional 825 votes in
Utah County. But Matheson beat Swallow by about 40,000 votes in the rest
of his sprawling district, which includes just a sliver of Utah County.
the 3rd Congressional District, the Utah County total for Rep. Chris
Cannon, R-Utah, jumped from 55,470 to 80,685 while Democratic challenger
Beau Babka's numbers increased from 22,705 to 27,061.
the election snafu, neither Republicans nor Democrats
were ready to
utter the "C-word."
was no conspiracy," Swensen said. "No one has to worry about
Sen. President-elect John Valentine, R-Orem, concurred.
"The size of the number [missed] concerns me; the fact there is a
number does not," he said. "In a race that was very close, such
as the race in District 1 in Salt Lake, it could have had an impact if
those 33,000 votes had been missed."
Elections Director Amy Naccarato said Utah County's problem was brought
to her attention the day after the election when someone noticed that the
total votes in the presidential race from that county were 33,000 less
than the total number of ballots cast.
That discrepancy - called the "undervote" - exists in every
race because voters pick and choose their contests, leaving some blank.
But the magnitude of the Utah County vote was out of line with
anything that normally would be expected, Naccarato said. She said no
other county had anything approaching that scale of undervote.
discrepancy did not escape the attention of Marian Monnahan, chairwoman
of the Utah County Republican Party. Earlier this week, she phoned County
Commissioner Steve White, who was attending the Utah Association of
Counties meeting in St. George, and told him about the missing votes.
asked her to sample a few precincts to see how widespread the undervote
might be. Monnahan quickly looked at her own precinct and examined a few
more in American Fork, Cedar Hills and elsewhere.
problem was the same everywhere," she said. "I'm just glad we
found out before the county certified the bad results."
commissioners are scheduled to certify the results
said he hopes to receive a more detailed explanation of the cause for the
glitch at the meeting.