Utah County commissioners nearly authorized giving access to detailed data about the 2022 primary election to a woman who presented baseless claims about “digital manipulation” of votes at My Pillow CEO-turned-2020 election results denier Mike Lindell’s voter fraud summit earlier this month.
Commissioner Bill Lee added an item to the August 17 Utah County Commission agenda authorizing Cindy Butler to perform a “pre-audit analysis” of the 2022 primary election results to discover “whether there is evidence to justify further examination of election records.”
Just after the June primary, Lee was pushing to obtain highly detailed election data known as the “cast vote record,” which would include a record of the exact date and time a ballot was counted and which tabulator machine was used to count that ballot. There were worries that the data was detailed enough that it could be used to triangulate how a specific voter had voted.
Lee’s request was denied at that July meeting because Utah law blocks the public disclosure of certain types of election data. As a compromise, Lee suggested they allow a “professional statistician” to use the data he asked for to analyze the election results.
A few weeks later, on July 27, the commissioners agreed to solicit proposals from independent statisticians to see how much an independent analysis of the election results might cost. Butler was present and offered a public comment about the importance of using an outside entity to scrutinize the data.
Later, Lee added an item to the Aug. 17 board of commissioners meeting to allow Butler to conduct a preliminary examination of the election.
“I put this agenda item on there so we could do a really scaled-down approach and look at what needed to be done instead of just a broad-brush stroke, which would cost the taxpayers and us a lot of money,” Lee said.
After a lengthy closed-door session to discuss the legality of turning over the election data to Butler, the council tabled the idea.
When asked by The Salt Lake Tribune why Lee zeroed in on Butler to conduct the review, he replied via text message, “She is a professional statistician.”
Lee added he was unaware that Butler was scheduled to speak at Lindell’s event a few days later on Aug. 21.
Utah County Commissioner Amelia Powers Gardner was alarmed when she was informed of Butler’s role in the Lindell-sponsored event. She said any examination of election results would have to conform to the highest standards.
“If there were to be a statistical analysis done of the Utah County election results, it would unquestionably need to be done by a qualified and unbiased firm,” Gardner said.
Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, the state’s top elections official, has said she’s confident in the results of Utah’s elections.
“There has been no evidence of fraud in Utah’s elections or any reason to question the validity of their outcomes,” she said in December.
The same “cast vote record” Lee was asking for after Utah’s primary elections this summer was the central part of Butler’s presentation during Mike Lindell’s “Moment of Truth” election fraud summit, where she claimed her analysis of the 2020 election results in New Mexico showed evidence of fraud.
“This to me is statistical evidence consistent with mail-in ballot stuffing or digital manipulation,” Butler said at the summit.
Butler peddled the same conclusions about New Mexico during public comment at the same meeting Lee first suggested an independent statistical analysis of the election results.
Lindell’s “Moment of Truth” summit was the follow-up to last year’s cyber-summit in South Dakota, which was attended by Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, and then-Rep. Steve Christiansen. Lindell says he has spent millions of dollars pursuing proof for his claim that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and to get Trump reinstated.
During her presentation, Butler shared the stage with David Clements, who has pushed for an independent election audit in New Mexico. Clement has repeatedly called for the execution of “traitors” who he believes are responsible for election fraud. Clements spoke at an election fraud event in St. George earlier this year.
Earlier this year, analysis by Butler fueled a short-lived lawsuit from Willie Billings alleging irregularities during the machine recount of his HD72 primary loss to Joseph Elison. Billings was seeking a hand recount of the race he lost by ten votes but abruptly abandoned the recount over legal fees.
Although Utah County ultimately passed on allowing Butler access to voter information, Salt Lake City Republicans say Butler provided analysis for them earlier this year, which, they say, included access to some scrubbed voter data.
During an April online pay-per-view event, Butler alleged the vote totals from 2020 in Salt Lake County were higher than the actual number of people who cast ballots, a number she said was based on estimates because Utah law allows voters to shield their voter registration records from public view, and about 100,000 voters in Salt Lake County have done so.
During that same presentation, Butler said the Salt Lake County Republican Party provided her with non-public data since political parties and candidates can access some of those withheld voter registrations for election purposes.
“I was working with the GOP party. They had the privilege of getting more records than the citizens get,” Butler said.
Salt Lake County GOP Chair Chris Null says Butler routinely helped the party review data in various capacities.
“What she had access to at that time was under my direction and was scrubbed of any personal identifying information before given to her. The party regularly analyzes data for various reasons including campaign strategy, redistricting and validating elections Integrity,” Null said in a text message.
Null added the last time the party used Butler’s help was in February as part of the county GOP’s evaluation of the newly redistricted election maps.