Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee is asking for detailed data from the 2022 primary election to use when the commission meets next Tuesday to certify the results. The report he’s requesting is similar to data that groups pushing unfounded claims of rampant election fraud have been seeking.
Lee is asking for something called the “cast vote record” or “CVR” from the election. Think of it as a record of when every ballot was counted and logged in the system. Technically, there’s no such report. Utah County Clerk Josh Daniels explains the data exists, but nobody has ever asked for it before.
“It’s a summary of the votes cast in the election. This report does not exist unless we generate it. There’s no reason for us to generate it,” Daniels says.
Although the data Lee is requesting does not include voters’ personal information, Daniels explains it is so detailed that it could be used to triangulate how a person voted, violating the Utah Constitution’s guarantee of a secret ballot.
Lee has ties to election deniers Jen Orten and Sophie Anderson, known online as the “Two Red Pills.” They’ve made open records requests to nearly every county in Utah attempting to obtain the “CVR” data from the 2020 election but have been repeatedly rebuffed. To obtain that data, they have filed suit against several counties, including Utah County.
The Utah Elections Office previously said Utah law prohibits releasing certain types of election materials, including data, that cannot be disclosed publicly. Elections director Ryan Cowley declined to comment for this article as his office filed as an intervenor against Orten and Andersen in their lawsuit.
Orten and Anderson have made fantastical claims that they were targeted and surveilled by shadowy federal agents after making those requests, including that “poison darts” were put into their clothing. Anderson is awaiting trial on charges she disrupted a Granite School Board meeting last year.
In March, the pair presented Lee with a “Fight for Freedom” award “for his courageous leadership with mandates, election issues/audits, and sooo much more!” according to a post on their Telegram channel. They also endorsed Lee over his Republican opponent in last month’s primary election.
Orten and Anderson have ties to several proponents of “the big lie” that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
In February, Lee partnered with Orten and Anderson to allow self-proclaimed election data analyst Jeff O’Donnell to address a Utah County Commission meeting about purported anomalies in election data. The meeting video was briefly taken down because it contained misinformation and falsehoods about election fraud.
O’Donnell, known online as “the Lone Raccoon,” is a proponent of the evidence-free conspiracy theory that so-called “phantom voters” were responsible for Donald Trump’s loss in several states in 2020. More recently, O’Donnell authored a thoroughly debunked report claiming election irregularities in Colorado.
O’Donnell was the headline speaker at a pair of election fraud conspiracy events sponsored by Orten and Andersen in March, where Lee was in attendance.
Orten and Anderson are also tied to Tina Peters, the Colorado county clerk facing several felony charges for allegedly leaking voting machine data online. Last month they, along with Rep. Phil Lyman, spoke at an election fraud conspiracy event organized by Peters in Colorado. That event was headlined by My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, who has funded several efforts to cast doubt on the validity of the 2020 election. Lindell has claimed he’s spent thousands of dollars supporting Peters’ legal defense. Last fall, Peters, Orten and Anderson spoke at the conspiracy-driven Western Conservative Action Network conference in Salt Lake City.
Orten, Anderson and their associates have already started to cast doubt on the validity of the just-completed 2022 primary election results as most of the candidates they supported are currently losing their races. That includes Lee, who trails Brandon Gordon by fewer than 2,000 votes. It’s possible Lee or someone else could use the data to claim fraud in the election to try and challenge his loss.
Lee did not respond to questions from The Tribune about why he was requesting the data or whether he planned to keep it confidential.
Utah County Commissioner Tom Sakievich joined Lee in requesting to see the detailed election data. He did not respond to questions from The Tribune.
Daniels has not yet decided how to respond to Lee’s request. One possibility is to let Lee and Sakievich review the data in a non-public setting but not give them a copy.
“Ideally, they shouldn’t share this information publicly,” Daniels said.