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Search underway for new Utah elections director

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, whose office oversees all Utah elections, is tasked with selecting a successor to the state director of elections, who announced his resignation to seek other opportunities. (KUTV)

A man you've probably never heard of is leaving arguably one of the most important jobs you may not know exists.

Justin Lee, the Utah state director of elections, announced he's resigning for a new career opportunity.

With such a big role to fill, how will Utahns know the next time they vote, it will continue to be counted safely and fairly?

Lee leaves his post in a couple weeks, and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, whose office oversees all Utah elections, will be tasked with selecting his successor.

"We don't think that you can either have a safe and secure election or you can have easy access to voting, you can have both and Utah has demonstrated that,” Henderson said.

Henderson said she feels a lot of damage has been done to how some people view elections, and cited a poll showing a large percentage of Utah voters questioned outcomes in other states – but at the same time a very high percentage trusted Utah's elections.

“If you're worried about the process, go to the county clerk. The ballots are not counted at a statewide level. They are counted at individual counties, so having some sort of widespread problem – it just isn't feasible. It can't happen. It doesn't happen,” she said.

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Henderson said the narrative undermining elections is still a concern and said some of it is coming from Utahns who have gone through the election process themselves.

“We have people here in the state of Utah – even elected officials here in the state of Utah – who are peddling ignorance for political points, and that concerns me,” Henderson said.

When asked who she was referring to Henderson said, “I will decline to mention names.”

Henderson's focus has been on education and training.

Her office is training staff and preparing education materials for voters in the 23 cities that will do rank choice voting for the first time in their next election.

A nationwide search will be conducted to find Lee’s replacement.