In October, the ACLU raised concerns that Nielson had distributed a letter to the editor about the election to voters at some polling locations. Attempting to influence voters within a polling place is a crime under state law.
“If the county is distributing information about the election, it should be unbiased, so it raises some serious concerns,” John Mejia, ACLU legal director for Utah, said at the time.
Nielson confirmed to KUER that he distributed the letter at polling locations but said his intention was to educate voters.
“It was a mistake — inadvertent. There wasn’t any intention to sway one way or another, just inform,” he said.
Published in the San Juan Record, the letter advocated for the special election, which asked voters if the county should explore changing its form of government. It was written by Blanding Mayor Joe Lyman, who collected signatures to prompt the election.
Critics of the election said it was an attempt to unseat the county’s first majority Navajo commission, elected last year following a lawsuit that resulted in federal redistricting. In the letter, Lyman disputed those claims and advocated for a five-person commission.