Utah’s Democratic delegates defend by-mail voting

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks at the opening of a new home for Salt Lake County Youth Services’ Milestone Transitional Living Program on July 8, 2020. She announced the votes of the Utah delegation to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, and also defended voting by mail.

Utah Democrats used their moment in the spotlight Tuesday during the official roll call of the states at the Democratic National Convention not only to announce their votes for president, but to defend the voting by mail the Beehive State has used for years — and which President Donald Trump attacks.

“Democrats and Republicans here in Utah agree: Mail-in voting strengthens our democracy,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson — who is also Utah’s Democratic National Committeewoman — as she announced that Utah cast 17 votes for Bernie Sanders and 16 for Joe Biden.

As she stood in front of the state Capitol, she added, “Here in Utah, we have had mail-in voting for years. If you’re registered to vote, you automatically get a ballot. It’s fast, it’s reliable and it’s easy for everyone to participate.”

As proof, she said that “in 2016, we had turnout well over 80%, and this year we’re expecting even higher.”

The convention took a half hour for each state delegation to announce its votes and tell stories — as the convention explained — “about the strength of the American people in overcoming the chaos and crisis of Donald Trump and fighting for a better America.”

Most speakers announced counts as they stood in front of local landmarks, landscapes or workplaces. They talked about everything from protecting essential workers in the pandemic to calls for social justice, helping immigrants and ending racial disparities in health care.

While Wilson defended voting by mail, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, earlier in the day tweeted out an attack on Democrats for embracing claims that the U.S. Postal Service may not be able to handle voting by mail this year.

“Democrats should be deeply embarrassed that their leadership has embraced conspiratorial claims about the USPS. We will not be able to seriously address the long term challenges until this political posturing stops,” he wrote.