Calling it a "ballot fiasco," a Democratic candidate for the Davis County Commission is charging the ballots for the Nov. 6 general election were not printed with candidates listed in alphabetical order, as he says the county clerk promised would be done.
J. Dell Holbrook, the commission candidate and county Democratic Party chairman, said the ballots list Republican candidates first in the races, giving those candidates an advantage.But County Clerk Margene Isom said the ballots were drawn up and printed according to the state election code and in the same way they have been in the past.
Isom, a Republican running unopposed for the new clerk/auditor position, also said she did not promise Holbrook that the candidates in the general election would be listed alphabetically.
One of her deputies told Holbrook the names would be listed alphabetically on the primary election ballots, and they were, Isom said. She indicated Holbrook may have misunderstood the commitment as extending to the general election ballots also.
Isom said she contacted election consultant Vernon Carr about the proper procedure for listing candidates on the general election ballots and followed his instructions.
"Candidates are listed on the general election ballot in party order, with the party of the incumbent county clerk listed first," Isom said. "That's the way it's done.
"In Davis County or Salt Lake County, where the clerk is a Republican, the Republican Party is listed first. In Tooele County, where the clerk is a Democrat, the Democrats are listed first," Isom said.
"When the proofs of the ballots were sent to me for approval, they were listed that way. I checked them for proper spelling and to make sure all the candidates were listed and sent them back for printing," said Isom.
Holbrook's objections were raised when Isom, as a courtesy, sent a copy of the printed ballots to all candidates in the county.
Holbrook said he protested the printing order Oct. 18 when he received his copy of the ballot. According to Holbrook, Isom offered to have the ballots reprinted but he declined because of the cost.
Calling himself a "fiscally conservative Democrat," Holbrook said he "reminded Mrs. Isom of the large amount of money involved in reprinting." Despite being " personally slighted" by the printing, Holbrook said he declined to have the ballots reprinted.
Isom also disputes that charge, saying the ballots were printed properly and she did not offer to spend more county money having them redone.
"It's a shame when the current system pulls stunts like this," said Holbrook. "It's a minor thing but it shows just how little balance there is in county government."
The best way to list candidates on a ballot would be to flip a coin or draw lots, both Isom and Holbrook agree.