Judge tosses lawsuit from Utah election conspiracy duo seeking 2020 voting data

Lt.. Gov. Henderson’s office also opposed releasing the data, saying it would be used to cast doubt on the 2020 and 2021 elections.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Laura Jacobs runs the Agilis ballot sorting machine at the Salt Lake County building, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.

A judge tossed a lawsuit from a pair of Utah election deniers seeking detailed voting data from the 2020 election.

Jen Orten and Sophie Anderson, known online as “The Two Red Pills,” filed suit against Utah, Juab and Millard counties, seeking voting machine data from the 2020 elections. In their lawsuit, Orten and Anderson asked for the “cast vote record” in those counties from the 2020 election, which is a record of when ballots from the election were counted by machine and logged into the system. The duo claimed since Utah law does not explicitly protect those records, they should be made available.

Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson’s office filed a motion to dismiss in the suit, claiming Utah’s public records laws don’t apply because the data is an “election record,” which is exempted from GRAMA (the Government Records and Management Act). Utah law says all election materials must be sealed for 22 months after the results are certified and destroyed.

Additionally, her office was skeptical about why the two were asking for the data.

“Plaintiffs effectively want to contest the 2020 and 2021 elections results and thereby cast doubt on county and state administration of elections,” Henderson’s motion reads.

Henderson — who oversees the state’s election system — said in her filing that there were no objections to the election results until Orten and Anderson “blanketed local elections officials statewide” with requests for election data over a year after the election.

“Plaintiffs persist in suggesting that their GRAMA requests should be granted so they can ‘monitor election officials,’ ‘likely unveil official misconduct,’ expose ‘secrecy,’ and accuse Lt. Governor Henderson of threatening the Defendant Counties. Of course, there is no basis to their accusations,” a subsequent filing from Henderson’s office argued.

Last week, 4th District Judge Derek Pullan dismissed the lawsuit. Neither Orten, Anderson, nor their attorneys responded to questions about whether they planned to appeal the decision.

The data Orten and Anderson wanted is the same information Utah County Commissioner Bill Lee requested before voting to certify the results of the 2022 primary election. Election officials said that information is detailed enough that it could be used to triangulate how some voters cast their ballots, violating Utah’s constitutional guarantee of a secret ballot.

In February, Lee partnered with Orten and Anderson to allow Jeff O’Donnell, a self-proclaimed election data analyst, to address a Utah County Commission meeting where he made unsubstantiated claims about election data anomalies. O’Donnell, who calls himself “The Lone Raccoon” on his Telegram channel, claims “phantom voters” were responsible for Donald Trump’s loss in 2020. His analyses have been repeatedly discredited.

Orten and Anderson have become minor celebrities in the election conspiracy community, making frequent appearances on fringe programs and podcasts. The pair claim they’ve been harassed and surveilled by federal agents after they started making requests for election information. Those claims include electronic listening devices placed in their homes and that they found poison needles sewn into their clothing.

Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, is a close ally of the two, speaking at many of the same election fraud events. Lyman made unsubstantiated claims that voting machines switched ballots in the June primary election. In a tweet, Henderson said her office investigated the allegation, but the “problem was a result of a small font size on one of [the] ballot marking machines” and the Wasatch County Clerk had increased the font to alleviate any confusion.

“Every voter who used the machine in question was able to cast a vote for their preferred candidates in the end,” the state’s top election official wrote on Twitter.

Clarification • This story has been updated to include additional context about allegations of ballot machine problems in Wasatch County.