Coppins: What precautions did Utah take to ensure that it would run so smoothly, and that everybody was on board?
Cox: We did it in just a few municipalities at first, and counties could opt in. We also had extreme oversight. Those security measures are really important, including only sending ballots out to active voters. The Post Office gives us lists of people who have changed addresses and people who have passed away [so that they don’t get ballots sent to them mistakenly]. We have real people looking at every single signature on every ballot that comes in [to make sure they match the voter’s signature]. And if those ballots are rejected because a signature doesn’t match, we actually reach out to the voter and give them an opportunity to cure that, to resubmit their ballot. So it’s a very labor-intensive practice.
Done correctly, it’s amazing. Done poorly, it can call into question even the potential validity of the election.
Coppins: It also takes much longer to count the votes. You recently experienced this with your own race, right?
Cox: The election was on a Tuesday, and I believe the race was called on Monday of the next week. That’s very common. It’s just a paradigm shift that people have had to get used to.
Here, we mail ballots out approximately three weeks before the election. About a third of people mail it back the day they get it, a third do it in the interim period, and a third do it at the very last minute. With my race, I told my people, ‘We are not going to know who won this on Election Night.’”