SALT LAKE CITY -- Election officials are worried that a massive write-in campaign mounted by Republicans in the scandal-ridden Salt Lake County mayoral race could hold up final results in other races around the state.
The Republican incumbent, Nancy Workman, has been placed on paid administrative leave while she faces two felony charges for allegedly taking $17,000 in health department funds to place a bookkeeper at a boys and girls club where her daughter worked.
Republican write-in candidate Ellis Ivory entered the mayoral race this week, saying Workman has no chance to win.
If many voters write in Ivory's name, election workers may have to count tens of thousands of ballots by hand, and that could delay results for days.
Voters drop their punch-card ballots inside an envelope that contains a flap for write-in candidates, so election workers can't count the official ballots before counting the write-in choices.
Even though the big write-in effort is only in the Salt Lake County race, it could hold up results for all offices -- including president -- because the same ballot lists candidates for multiple elections and so many Utah voters are concentrated in the county.
Salt Lake County accounts for nearly a majority of the state's active voters. More than 300,000 county residents are expected to cast ballots.
Salt Lake County election officials are making plans to ensure a quick but accurate count Nov. 2 but even the best-case scenario shows results may not be known until the next day.
Still, state Elections Director Amy Naccarato said officials would take the time necessary to ensure an accurate election.
"If it takes them a day or longer, I am not going to be screaming," she said. "The law says you do it until you're done. You don't want the whole election to be wrong because you did it too fast."