Utah Administrative Code
The Utah Administrative Code is the body of all effective administrative rules as compiled and organized by the Division of Administrative Rules (see Subsection 63G-3-102(5); see also Sections 63G-3-701 and 702).
NOTE: For a list of rules that have been made effective since January 1, 2020, please see the codification segue page.
NOTE TO RULEFILING AGENCIES: Use the RTF version for submitting rule changes.
R623. Lieutenant Governor, Elections.
Rule R623-2. Uniform Ballot Counting Standards.
As in effect on January 1, 2020
Table of Contents
- R623-2-1. Purpose.
- R623-2-2. Authority.
- R623-2-3. Definitions.
- R623-2-4. Uniform Counting Standards for Optical Scan Ballots.
- R623-2-5. Uniform Counting Standards for Punch Card Voting Systems.
- Date of Enactment or Last Substantive Amendment
- Notice of Continuation
- Authorizing, Implemented, or Interpreted Law
The State of Utah is adopting uniform and nondiscriminatory standards that define what constitutes a vote and what will be counted for each voting system used in the state.
This rule is authorized by Utah Code Section 67-1a-2(2)(a); 42 USC 15403(e); 42 USC 15481(a)(6); Utah Constitution Article VII Sections 1, 5 and 14.
In addition to the terms defined in Utah Code Section 20A-1-102, the following definitions apply:
A. "Blank Ballot" means a ballot on which the voter has made no marks in any voting position, or has been marked with an unreadable marker, or is one which has been consistently marked outside of the "read" area of the scanner.
B. "Chad" means the small piece of paper or cardboard produced from a punch card ballot when a voter pierces a hole in a perforated, designated position on the ballot with a marking device to record the voter's candidate, question, or issue choice.
C. "Counter" means automatic tabulating equipment or other electronic voting equipment upon which ballots are counted.
D. "Damaged Ballot" means a ballot that has been torn, bent, or otherwise mutilated or rendered unreadable so that it cannot be processed by automatic tabulating equipment.
E. "Duplicate Ballot" means a ballot for which a duplicate is made in order to be properly processed and counted due to damage, improper marking or some other reason which would prevent a counter from accurately counting the ballot in accordance with the voter's intent.
F. "Overvote" means a race, question or issue which contains votes for more than the maximum number of candidates or responses for a ballot question or issue allowed.
G. "Optical Scan Ballot" means a paper ballot that contains blank ovals or arrows that are to be filled in by the voters using a readable marker.
H. "Punch Card Ballot" means a ballot card that contains small perforated designated positions that a marking device must pierce to form a hole that records a voter's candidate, question, or issue choice.
I. "Resolution Board" means election judges who inspect the optical scan ballots.
J. "Undervote" means a race, question or issue which contains no votes or when more than one choice is available, less than the maximum number of votes allowed.
K. "Zero tape" means a paper record that no votes have been cast or counted on any automatic tabulating equipment or voting machine.
A. A correctly voted optical scan ballot occurs when a voter, using a readable marker, fills in or connects at least one of the ovals/arrows per race, question, or issue, not to exceed the maximum allowable votes per race, question or issue, in accordance with the ballot marking instructions.
B. Optical scan equipment shall be set to consistent and uniform sensitivity standards for each system type.
C. Pre-election testing shall be performed by the designated election official in accordance with Utah Code Section 20A-4-104(1).
D. Election day count machine settings shall be set to sort blank ballots, overvotes, and write-in votes.
E. When a precinct optical scan counter is used in the precinct the procedure is as follows:
1. A zero tape shall be run indicating no votes cast or counted before the machine is used.
2. Voters whose ballots are rejected or sorted by the precinct counter as a blank, overvoted or undervoted ballot shall be given the opportunity to correct their ballot.
3. Ballots sorted to a write-in bin shall be tallied at the conclusion of the voting and delivered to the central counting center in a secure container.
F. When using a central count optical scan counter, the procedure is as follows:
1. A zero tape shall be run indicating no votes cast or counted before the counting begins.
2. Official ballots shall be processed through the optical scanner, with write in votes tallied. If there are no legally qualified write-in candidates, the write-in sort option shall not be utilized.
3. The optical scanner shall be tested again by tabulating the test deck at the conclusion of the count.
G. Resolution of optical scan ballots shall be as follows:
1. Damaged or defective ballots shall be repaired, if possible, to be accepted by the optical scan equipment. If the ballot is damaged beyond repair, the ballot shall be duplicated utilizing the ballot duplication procedures established in Utah Code Section 20A-4-104(3).
2. Blank ballots shall be examined by the resolution board to determine if the ballot is a true blank ballot or one that has been marked with a non-detected device. The resolution board may clarify a non-detected mark in such a manner that the original voter mark is preserved, such as making a detectable line through the non-detected mark, placing a removable label over the non-detected mark and marking with the proper device, or placing cellophane tape over the mark and a marked removable label to properly reflect the voter's intent. The election officer must initial the clarification in a non-readable area on the ballot next to the clarification. The election official may also choose to make a true duplicate copy of the ballot utilizing the ballot duplication procedures. If a ballot is truly blank, it shall be sent back for the resolution pass through the scanner, and the ballot tabulated with no races, issues or questions voted.
3. Overvoted ballots shall be inspected by the resolution board. Any marks that are clearly identified as unintentional but register as an overvote on the scanner may be clarified by the election officer by the placement of a removable adhesive sticker over the unintentional mark to properly reflect the voter's intent. The election officer must initial next to the clarification in a non-readable portion of the ballot. The election officer may also choose to make a true duplicate copy of the ballot utilizing the procedures for duplication of ballots.
4. Write-in votes sorted by the optical scan equipment on election day shall be designated for hand counting. In order to be counted, the oval must be darkened or the arrow connected according to the appropriate voting instructions.
H. Recount Procedures for Optical Scan.
1. Optical scan equipment shall be set to consistent sensitivity standards for each system type, shall be tested prior to the recount, and shall be programmed to sort undervotes for the individuals race(s), issue(s) or question(s) being recounted.
2. Recounts will include a visual inspection of all ballots cast for write-in candidates in the contested race(s) to determine voter intent.
A. Prior to the counting of the ballots by automatic tabulating equipment, at least one team of election personnel shall inspect the ballots for loose chads, ballot damage, including holes that are too large, a ballot that is torn in the mail, etc., written instructions and corrections, and write-in votes. The purpose of the inspection shall be to insure that all ballots are machine-readable and that the voter's intent will be recorded correctly and accurately. In some instances, duplication of the ballot may be necessary in order to count the ballot.
B. All loose chads shall be removed to insure that all of the voter's choices on the ballot are correctly and accurately reflected in the count.
1. A chad that is unattached on two or more corners represents a vote and shall be removed.
2. If a chad is attached to a punch card ballot by three or four corners, unless there is a complete hole in the chad made by the stylus, no vote shall be recorded for that candidate, issue or question at that particular ballot position, and the chad shall not be removed.
C. Dimpled mark or puncture. If the ballot has been marked according to instructions but there is a dimple mark located wholly on the non removed chad, that mark shall be considered a random mark, no vote shall be recorded for that candidate, issue or question at that particular ballot position, and the chad shall not be removed.
D. Damaged ballots. If the ballot has damage or defects that would cause problems in tallying, the ballot shall be duplicated to the extent possible in accordance with the voter's intent. If the voter's intent cannot be determined for a specific office, issue or question on the damaged ballot, that position shall be left blank on the duplicate ballot.
E. If other material is included with an absentee ballot or is attached to the secrecy envelope, the material shall be inspected to determine if it has a bearing on the voter's intent. If the material has a bearing on the voter's intent, the original ballot shall be duplicated as necessary and the original ballot, along with the material, shall be placed in an envelope marked "Duplicated Ballot". If the material has no bearing on the voter's intent, it shall be discarded.
elections, ballots, Help America Vote Act, voting
June 16, 2004
January 28, 2019
Article VII, Sections 1, 5, and 14; 67-1a-2(2); 42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(6)
For questions regarding the content or application of rules under Title R623, please contact the promulgating agency (Lieutenant Governor, Elections). A list of agencies with links to their homepages is available at http://www.utah.gov/government/agencylist.html or from http://www.rules.utah.gov/contact/agencycontacts.htm.