March 5, 2021
5 Steps to Safer Elections: In Action
Utah’s Weber County convenes meeting on election security cooperation
WEBER COUNTY, UTAH – One might assume a 20% margin in the 2020 presidential election would insulate a state like Utah from election anger. However, no state is immune, as even there, local election officials are fielding vitriolic threats of violence and even revolt.
To address the rising threat, Weber County Clerk Auditor Ricky Hatch, whose office has been a target of the invective, convened a meeting of law enforcement and election officials, using the Committee for Safe and Secure Election’s Five Steps to Safer Elections to build the agenda.
Weber County Clerk Auditor Ricky Hatch speaks at the elections-law enforcement meeting.
Hatch recruited Weber County Sheriff Ryan Arbon and County Attorney Christopher Allred – the local prosecutor – as primary law enforcement participants, helping draw nearly 50 attendees, including sheriffs, police chiefs and election officials, from several counties in northern Utah.
CSSE members Tina Barton and Harold Love set a tone of gravity informed by real-life experience. Barton described how she endured election-related threats as a local election official and Love spoke about his work with victims of threats and anchoring the law enforcement response in the oath to protect and serve.
Participants received law enforcement/elections challenge coins designed by CSSE. Challenge coins are a common token of mutual respect in military and police circles.
Sheriff Arbon and Utah state elections director Ryan Cowley provided detailed descriptions of law enforcement and election operating environments, including both contrasts and similarities, like their reliance on written rules and procedures.
Lawyers from the County Attorney’s office led an engaging discussion on how law enforcement might respond to some common election scenarios.
The gathering accomplished the first three steps of CSSE’s five-step guidance – meeting with counterparts, sharing experiences and details, and agreeing on the outlines of routine security cooperation.
Still to come: Meetings to plan for more difficult or threatening security incidents and practicing responses to create muscle memory for situations that may be infrequent, but demand finesse and adherence to the plan should they arise.
For more information, see The Elections Group’s in-depth case study of the engagement here.
If your jurisdiction is interested in receiving support from the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, sign up here. A committee member or supporting organization will get in touch with you.