Same day voter registration has been enacted in 11 states, and has grown increasingly popular as technology has made the process easier to ensure that voter fraud does not take place.
The advantage to our democracy is also obvious. States that have same day voter registration see, on average, 10 to 17 percent higher turnout relative to states that do not have such provisions. One of the reasons for this is that the majority of political activities can take place in the final month of a campaign. Debates, door knocking, mailers and the like all kick into high gear during the month of October.
In Utah, however, there is a cut off for registering to vote – specifically, a voter must be signed up 30 days prior to an election. If, for whatever reason, a person wishes to participate in an election after that 30 day cut off, they are fresh out of luck.
There are many who complain that it is the potential voters responsibility to register to vote long before the election, however this idea ignores the fact that many people move and forget, think they are registered to vote – only to find out that they are not, or simply become passionate about a candidate and wish to participate. In the end, same day voting is simply good policy to encourage citizenship.
Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D – Salt Lake City) clearly feels this way as well as she is proposing HB 91 (substituted).
The bill would allow individuals to cast a provisional ballot the day of the election and have it count if it can be proved that the individual lives in the district and is otherwise eligible to vote in the election (as in, over 18 and not felon).
By making the ballot provisional, the state easily avoids the concern that ballots would be counted where they shouldn’t. Provisional ballots currently exist as part of our regular voting procedure and ballots must be verified by the county clerks before they are counted in the official tally. In short, systems are already in place to handle verification.
But, we can not pretend that this wont cost time and money. The fiscal note estimates that this would cost county governments $131,200 across the state. However, it should be noted that Sherrie Swensen, County Clerk of Salt Lake County and the clerk most impacted by the change, is an advocate for same day registration.
The bill will probably meet with resistance and efforts at same day registration has failed in the past. No doubt, Representative Chavez-Houck is banking that the more moderate legislature will give the bill a chance.
To contact Rep. Houck, Click Here or call 801-891-9292
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Great Bill 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 . -1 . -2 . -3 . -4 . -5 Poor Bill