The county clerk wears lots of different hats running elections, maintaining county records, issuing and recording marriage licenses, and helping citizens with passports.
The right to vote is the central piece of living within a democracy, and helps to preserve all other rights we enjoy as citizens of the United States. As such, county clerks are one of the gatekeepers of democracy, protecting the integrity and accuracy of elections.
To do this, county clerks work closely with political parties and candidates running for office to ensure they have followed each step necessary in the process. Clerks also must determine the best methods and procedures for each election – such as in-person or by-mail voting.
Running elections is a year-round process that starts in January as candidates begin to file paperwork to officially declare their intent to run for office. County clerks continuously track and update candidate filings and voter registration records to ensure every citizen is given the opportunity to cast a ballot.
If a political party has more than one candidate for a particular race a primary election is held. During a primary election, citizens get the final choice of who will represent each party in the November general election. In both the primary and general elections, county clerks are focused on fairness, efficiency, and accuracy so that elections can be officially certified and the voice of citizens can be heard.
Along with elections, the county clerk is also the chief records holder of government-issued records and documents produced by the county. This includes all permanent records such as contracts, meeting agendas and minutes, resolutions, ordinances, policies and procedures, fee schedules for each department, and public notices and noticing requirements.
Because they are the keeper of all those records clerks also manage many of the county’s public record and information requests under the umbrella of Utah’s Government Records Access Management Act (also called GRAMA). Clerks provide transparency to the citizens by working with individuals that request government records. They also direct and advise other county departments on retention of records and what information is public.
One of the records county clerks issue and keep are marriage licenses. Along with the licenses themselves, clerks also have the option of officiating marriages ceremonies.
Finally, clerks in most counties help citizens with passports by providing information, accepting applications and then forwarding them on to the federal government for approval.
The Clerk is just one of many important offices at your county. But without their ability to manage our election system, records and other services, these important functions that protect our rights and access to information would be a lot harder.