Goud Maragani: Voters have important questions for a county clerk candidate

It is good to see that so many voters are concerned about democracy in Salt Lake County.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Dave Sawatzki drops his election ballot in the official drop box at the Salt Lake County complex for primary election day on Tuesday, June 26, 2018.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of being on the campaign trail in Salt Lake County is meeting the many diverse groups and individuals who have their own unique stories and experiences. Whether it is a speaking engagement, meet and greets, social events or discussions with citizen organizations, each is a great opportunity to interact directly with you.

Your many questions and comments indicate a much greater interest in the race for county clerk than maybe ever before. Your genuine interest and desire to be informed and engaged in our election process are both refreshing and encouraging.

I will share with you a few of the important questions I am often asked by Salt Lake County voters.

1. Vote-by-Mail. Some county voters ask if, as your county clerk, I would support mail-in ballots. Not only do I answer yes, but I relay to them that the Utah Legislature, not county clerks, determines Utah’s methods of voting. Depending on the election, over 90% of Salt Lake County’s citizens use mail-in ballots. Per our Legislature, voting by mail is always required to be provided as an option as discussed in Utah Code Section 20A-3a-201 (Voting Methods). In addition, Utah Code Section 20A-3a-204 (Marking and Depositing Ballots) requires that county clerks provide ballot drop boxes for voters to use to submit their mail ballots (called manual ballots in the Utah Election Code). In the 2020 general election, about 52% of voters chose to deposit their mail ballots into drop boxes.

2. Election Fraud. At times, I am asked if I believe fraud occurred in the 2020 election. I tell them that I have not investigated and cannot speak to how elections were run outside of Salt Lake County. I have, however, worked with a team to investigate how elections are run in Salt Lake County. We did not find that fraud occurred in Salt Lake County. See Findings from the Salt Lake County Election Review. I also state that, from my experience as a compliance attorney, one must continuously evaluate systems and improve them to prevent failures. The goal is to prevent problems from happening, not to react after they have occurred. That is how I will approach being your county clerk. I will lead that office to continuously ask questions and refine our processes to ensure that every vote counts and that we have the most secure and transparent election system in our state.

3. Protecting Democracy. It is refreshing to see that voters recognize the role of county clerks in protecting our Democracy. Voters can rest assured that as your county clerk, I will do everything in my power to protect our democracy.

As a person of color and son of immigrants, free and secure elections are personally important to me. When I was commissioned as a JAG officer in the U.S. Army Reserves, I swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This is an oath that is sacred to me and is the reason I deployed to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Syria and Iraq. I will carry that same commitment and promise to the Salt Lake County Clerk’s office.

Thank you for your interest and questions regarding the role of the county clerk. This is an exciting race, an important office, and I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail as we get closer to election day.

Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Goud Maragani, running for Salt Lake County clerk, gets three minutes to address the delegates before they cast their vote at the Salt Lake County Republican convention at Kearns High School on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Goud Maragani is the Republican candidate for Salt Lake County Clerk.