Nobody Has Gotten More People To Vote Than Sherrie


Sherrie Swensen was voted out of office this past March when the deadline for filing to run for reelection passed without her submitting her name. This was something no one else had ever been able to do. The Salt Lake County clerk who served the longest, for eight terms and 32 years, decided enough was enough.

She’s leaving behind a legacy as arguably the best voter recruiter in state history, going out undefeated like the 1972 Dolphins. She also had other responsibilities like managing passports and marriage licences (she has personally officiated at well over 1,000 weddings), but her legend is devoted to ensuring that elections are accessible to everyone. Like Sherrie, no one has gotten out the vote.

Being the GOAT of voter turnout wasn’t on her vision board when she was younger. Even worse, she lacked a vision board. In Murray’s working-class neighbourhood, she was raised by working-class parents. Her mother Ethel worked as a secretary, and her father Sterling was a house painter. She entered the workforce right after graduating from Murray High School in 1966 with the class of that year. A series of jobs in real estate and offices eventually led, quite accidentally, to a secretarial position with the Utah Democratic Party.

Party leaders there noticed her productivity and vigour and encouraged her to run for county clerk. She initially resisted because she wasn’t particularly interested in politics, but that all changed when she realised how challenging it was to register to vote. She recalls a time before the internet when paper registration forms could be found behind the counter at the main post office, available upon request, and that was about it. “Basically it (voting registration) was kind of a well-kept secret,” she says.

As she recalls, “I just thought that a democracy meant that more people should be representative of the masses of the population.” “I considered that to be significant.” So she ran and won in 1990. Barely. She ran and won in 1994. once more barely But as time went on, more and more people started to notice what she was doing. Since then, she has won six elections handily. She received two-thirds of the vote in the 2020 election.

Making registration as accessible as she could for as many voters was what she was doing. She went around the county distributing boxes of registration forms to every possible location, including supermarkets, apartment complexes, all post offices, libraries, and college campuses. She visited high schools and enrolled 18-year-olds there. She visited senior citizen centres and enrolled 81-year-olds there. The number of registered voters dramatically increased in the 1992 election, the first significant election of her clerkship.

She was a pioneer in the mail-in voting movement. She advocated for a permanent vote-by-mail registry, which was so well-received that the Utah Legislature adopted it and began offering mail-in voting statewide in 2015. Her favourite part of her job, in which she will oversee one final significant election in November before quitting for good on January 1, 2023, is seeing people cast their ballots. “To witness the pride people have in being heard.”

The bad? allegations of voter fraud from the 2020 election, both nationally and to some extent locally. She is all but apoplectic over the claims made by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that the 2020 presidential election was rigged — in all the crucial swing states. It’s comparable to people saying we didn’t put a man on the moon, according to Sherrie and her colleagues across the nation who are knowledgeable about how elections function.

The number of conspirators necessary to carry out the fraud they allege would be impossible to fathom, the woman says. How many would have to remain silent? Naturally, someone would falter. It is completely illogical. It is completely absurd to think that our system could be filled with fake ballots that were either printed in someone’s living room or imported from China. With the encryption and safeguards in the software, it is physically impossible to overcome the degree of difficulty.

And they claim that the fraud only affected Trump’s race. I’m not sure how they managed to have one contest rigged while the others were fair. I can’t really imagine how that could happen. “It is all so insensitive, depressing, and simply wrong.” The system’s problems were nearly enough to convince her to run for another four years in order to continue defending and protecting a fundamental aspect of democracy.

But after a ninth term, she would be 78 years old. “It was really difficult to decide (not to run again),” she says, “because we need people who have the trust and know the system now more than ever.” But as we all get older, I came to the realisation that it was time. What will happen on January 2? She mentions travel plans, spending more time with her two sons and eight grandchildren, and finishing long-abandoned projects.

She formally states that to be the case. Not on the record? She chuckles, “I’ll probably be bored to death. “Seriously, it’s been so time-consuming and rewarding for so long that I’m afraid I’ll get bored. She claims, “I loved the job, I just kept running and running.” “It feels like eight years have passed, not eight terms. You almost feel like pinching yourself as you take it all in. There was never a big plan. I never would have thought it would all happen.

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