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Former Cache County election worker accused of falsifying document

Logan's First District court is shown with three flagpoles in the foreground.
Francisco Kjolseth
The Salt Lake Tribune
First Judicial District Court in Logan, Utah, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023.

In the latest headache for Cache Valley officials, the Cache County Attorney’s Office has charged a former county election official with a felony.

Dustin Hansen, 31, of Nibley, was charged with one count of willful neglect of duty/corrupt conduct by a poll worker, which is a third-degree felony. Hansen — who was an elections coordinator with the Cache County Clerk/Auditor’s Office — was charged Friday, according to court records.

Charging documents say Hansen was responsible for sending a test of vote tabulating machines to the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office, which is the body that oversees all elections in the state.

Hansen allegedly forged the date of the test, charging documents say. The lieutenant governor’s office suspected the document was forged, and Cache County prosecutors later found that Hansen allegedly, “had used PDF editing software on his work computer to alter the document.”

Cache County Clerk/Auditor David Benson released a letter to constituents Friday saying Hansen had resigned from his job at the clerk’s office on Tuesday. Benson placed Hansen and another election worker on leave in December before he recused himself from the office as well. Benson’s letter confirms that was the result of the investigation into the falsified document.

The clerk’s office was reprimanded by the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office in a report released Tuesday, which found over 30 issues with Cache County’s handling of its 2023 elections. The reportdetailed not only Hansen’s alleged misconduct, but numerous other issues within the office.

In a letter addressed to Benson, Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson wrote, “My team not only found an unprecedented lack of controls, widespread violations of Utah election law and administrative rule, but also a pointed disregard for policy and practices established by my office.”

Despite the numerous issues, the lieutenant governor’s office also concluded there was no evidence of fraud or that the county’s 2023 elections were improperly certified.

In an emailed statement, interim Cache County Attorney Taylor Sorensen told Utah Public Radio members of his office, “unanimously agreed that the conduct alleged met the elements of the charge under Utah law.”

“Ensuring our elections are free of fraud is a priority for the Cache County Attorney’s Office,” Sorensen said in an email. “Rooting out corruption and misbehavior in government is one of the primary duties of our office, and we will aggressively protect the public interest in such cases.”

Prosecutors have proposed issuing a summons to Hansen to appear in Logan’s 1st District Court. Hansen does not have an initial appearance date set, and he does not have an attorney listed in court records.

Reporter Jacob Scholl covers northern Utah as part of a newly-created partnership between The Salt Lake Tribune and Utah Public Radio. Scholl writes for The Tribune and appears on-air for UPR.