2020 election winner: Utah County election chief Amelia Powers Gardner
“The epicenter of dysfunction” is no more. When Governor Gary Herbert blasted the Utah County Elections Office after the embarrassing administration of the 2018 election, voters knew it was time for change.
Amelia Powers Gardner overwhelmingly won the position of Utah County’s next Clerk, and the rest is history. In just two years, the Utah County Elections Office has gone from dysfunction to competence.
Powers Gardner and her team were ready for the challenge of the 2020 election. Utah County saw not only record voter registration but record voter turnout as well. We tallied an impressive 89.1% turnout, with 326,485 registered voters and 291,159 ballots counted.
The Utah County Elections Office didn’t just send out and receive a record number of ballots; they also processed votes in record time. After 2018, when election results took days to count, Powers Gardner focused on efficient and accurate reporting. This year the office processed 73% of all 2020 ballots by Election Day, providing citizens and candidates with quick and up-to-date reporting.
We not only benefited from a more efficient election; we also saw cost-saving measures throughout the process. Of the 291,159 ballots submitted this year, over 80% were returned in official election drop boxes, saving County taxpayers over $237,000 in postage. Powers Gardner and her team were prepared, adding 19 new drop boxes throughout the County to ensure voters’ easy access.
The Utah County Elections Office also improved election integrity and cost savings by cleaning the voter rolls. The national average for “return to sender” mailed ballots is over 10%. The Utah County Elections team accomplished a “return to sender” rate of 3.8%. This total was far less than the 27,000 ballots returned in 2016. This low return rate saved County taxpayers an additional $34,000 in postage costs.
While other government entities grapple with some voting irregularities and lack of transparency, Utah County is a beacon of light. Powers Gardner ensured transparency and fostered an environment where voters could trust a free and fair election process.
Powers Gardner reorganized the Elections Office to allow for better viewership for poll watchers and the public, even cutting an observation window in the wall. She also offered tours for youth groups and curious citizens to walk through and learn how the election process works. Finally, she allowed full access to numerous media outlets, political parties and candidate campaigns, which created confidence in our election process.
We want to thank Utah County Clerk Amelia Powers Gardner, Deputy Clerk Josh Daniels, Elections Director Rozan Mitchell and the countless members of the Utah County Elections team for a successful 2020 election.
Lehi Free Press Editorial Board