State Rep. Mel Brown, the current longest serving House member, isn’t ready to call it quits yet. Despite losing the primary election for re-election by a mere nine votes to local Logan Wilde after an official recount, Brown has now filed a lawsuit asking the Utah Supreme Court to intervene.
The suit, or “verified complaint contesting the results of primary election,” lists Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox, the Utah State Board of Canvassers, Morgan County Clerk Stacy Netz Clark and three other county clerks as respondents.
In the suit, Brown says the primary election results are “too close to call.”
With the respondents disqualifying 70 ballots because of a dispute over postmark dates, Brown’s suit declares that these ballots “were mailed the day before the election. The post office, however, failed to affix any indication that the ballots were mailed the day before.”
The suit lists names and addresses of 70 people whose votes were rejected due to postmark issues as well as 32 whose votes were disqualified due to signatures that did not match those on file. Brown said that these 70 people have since said that they mailed their ballots in their county or residence the day before the election, although the post office collected them and post marked them the next day.
Of the 70 contested votes, 15 are from Morgan County. Eight of the 32 with signature issues are from Morgan.
“Logically speaking, it is by far most probable that the 70 voters mailed their ballots in their respective counties of residence on the day before the election,” according to the suit. Brown wants the 70 ballots that still remain unopened counted, and the previous disqualification of the 70 votes deemed “improper.”
In a letter to Cox, Brown said, “Minor variations in a person’s signature should not disqualify their otherwise valid ballot—that is not what the statue requires, and it is contrary to the spirit of our democracy.”
Brown “asserts that there was error in counting the votes and declaring the result of the election, which error would change the result of the election. Specifically, legal votes for Brown were rejected, which, if counted, would raise the number of legal votes for Brown above the number of legal votes cast for Wilde. These disqualifications were not in compliance with the applicable statutes and resulted in an error in the canvass sufficient to change the result of the election.”
Brown also asserts that county clerks failed to personally contact each voter whose signatures they determined did not match those on file.
Time is of the essence, Brown said in the suit, because ballots need to be prepared by Aug. 30 in time for the November election.
Brown is not contesting the primary election results in Daggett County because they used traditional ballots rather than mail-in ballots used by the other four counties.
In a letter to Cox, Brown said that if neglected, the issues “could lead to the disenfranchisement of many rural Utah voters. Technical requirements should not be employed in a manner that unconstitutionally deprives honest voters of their right to vote for the candidate of their choice.”