Charlotte Kuhn: Lannie Chapman demonstrates leadership, confidence and grit

Chapman is the right person to be the next Salt Lake County clerk.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Lannie Chapman, Chief Deputy Clerk, prepares primary election ballots for counting at the Salt Lake County Government Center on Wednesday July 1, 2020.

As a newly retired election manager in the Salt Lake County Clerk’s Office, I want to share some personal insights into the clerk’s office and Lannie Chapman, the chief deputy clerk and candidate for Salt Lake County clerk.

I worked in the clerk’s office in the election division for more than nine years. During this time, I was primarily concerned with early and election day voting, post-election audits, candidate filing and campaign financial reporting. I secured voting locations and recruited poll workers. I am eternally grateful for the people who serve as poll workers. It can be a thankless job with little compensation.

Lannie Chapman is a strong person. As a deputy district attorney, she had been the attorney for the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office. In that job, she sometimes dealt with life and death situations. She is also confident, capable and tough. She is precise and careful. She doesn’t shoot from the hip, take a guess, or overstep her authority. But most importantly, she listens.

In 2020 there was an unusual volume of voter and candidate petitions, candidate filings and voting in the primaries, along with the earthquake and pandemic. She demonstrated leadership, confidence and grit early on.

The number of phone calls nearly overwhelmed election staff. Chapman encouraged staff to reassure callers about election processes. I sat in her office when she was patient and kind in mostly resolving the calls staff couldn’t handle. During the same time, she and County Clerk Sherrie Swensen were answering emails well into the wee hours of the night. I know this because they forwarded any poll worker inquiries to me!

Voters are one of her primary concerns. From day one she wanted convenient voting for all eligible voters. She is a strong believer that every eligible voter has a right to provide input. She also wants voters to have voting options that work for them.

Second, she is concerned about election security. She has worked with federal, state and local officials to assess election processes, protocols, facilities, equipment and accessibility. I sat in on some of those assessments.

Third, she wants election transparency. The clerk’s office election division has always allowed poll watchers. Sherrie and she have also always offered tours of the ballot center, but not many take the tours.

The clerk’s office also conducts election audits to ensure that voting results are correct. During my nine years with the clerk’s office, I was responsible for 20 post-election audits. Because I didn’t process ballots personally, I was assigned to lead the audits and to recruit poll workers to do the audits. The recruited poll workers for each audit had worked during the election, but they never audited a voting machine from the location where they worked.

None of the 20 audits turned up any significant problems. While the audits are publicly announced, poll watchers only attended audits twice: once in 2018 during the close Mia Love/Ben McAdams race and again after the 2022 primary election. During the June 2022 audit, we had three poll watchers: the other candidate for county clerk, a representative from the Republican Party and a candidate who lost her primary election. None stayed for the entire process.

Deep down in my core, I believe that most voters of Salt Lake County trust the election process and are satisfied with county elections.

What will Lannie Chapman be like as county clerk? She will start Day 1 with full knowledge of the tasks ahead for the election, marriage licenses, passport assistance and Council Clerk divisions. She knows the office and responsibilities. She won’t grandstand because she knows that the clerk’s work is administrative, not a big policy-making position on multiple issues.

Of course, she will make some changes, but I guarantee she will be following the law passed by the Utah Legislature. She will be working with other county clerks and the lieutenant governor’s office to address any changes that put an undue burden on the elections process and to seek any necessary funding.

She will preserve the trust voters have in Salt Lake County elections. I ask you, whatever your party affiliation, to join me in voting for Lannie Chapman for Salt Lake County Clerk.

Charlotte Kuhn

Charlotte Kuhn recently retired from Salt Lake County after serving over nine years as an election manager in the county clerk’s office and serving more than seven years for Aging and Adult Services as a program manager and quality assurance manager.