Currently, in order to register to vote in the state of Utah, you must be at least 18 years old, have lived in the state for at least 30 days, be mentally competent, provide valid form of Utah identification – such as a driver’s license, state ID card, or give the last four of your Social Security Number, and be a citizen of the United States.
In order to get a driver’s license or state ID card, an individual needs to provide, among other things, a Social Security number.
In order to receive a Social Security number, you need to provide a birth certificate, or provide proof of naturalization.
If you are born in this country or are naturalized into this country, you are a citizen of the United States.
If we bring all of this back around, you will see that it is very clear that, in order to vote in Utah, someone has to provide proof that they are a citizen of the United States. For that reason, it seems odd that Representative Jacob Anderegg (Republican – Lehi) would propose HB 244 – Voting and Voter Registration Amendments.
The bill would require that, in order to vote, a citizen must provide proof that they are citizens of the United States, and that they provide either a copy or a physical form of identification to a county clerk or the driver’s license division.
But, if you were reading above, you see that people already need to provide proof of citizenship to receive a state ID or driver’s license to get those forms of documentation, and that those subsequent documents are needed to vote. County clerks and the Lieutenant Governor’s office will then look at the ID number or Social Security Number and validate that, yes, the individual applying has a valid form of identification and is, therefore, a citizen of the United States.
On the surface, this bill appears to be redundant – after all, Anderegg appears to be saying that the state needs to confirm that only citizens are voting in our elections – but, in this case, the devil is in the redundancy.
What HB 244 actually does is make it far more difficult for people to register to vote, and impossible for outside organizations (including the Republican and Democratic parties) to register people to vote. One reading of the bill could be that the individual themselves have to provide documentation of citizenship. Even if this were not the case, the only way for a valid voter registration to be submitted is if organizations brought a photocopier with them to a voter registration drive. Consider the fact that many registrations take place while going door to door and it is plain to see that this bill will make becoming a voter far more difficult.
This chilling effect on voting and voter registration has been a popular theme among conservative lawmakers in Utah and across the nation with several laws making voter registration and voting in general more difficult. For example, the requirement that a state ID be presented at the time of registration and voting was put into law in 2009, and lawmakers have slowly been chipping away from there.
And the effect is clear: Utah is in the bottom third when it comes to voter turnout, and legislation such as this will only further the problem.
The argument that these laws prevent voter fraud is also suspect. Between 2000 and 2010, there were no reported cases of voter fraud in the state of Utah, but there were 51 cases of campaign officials engaged in fraudulent activities. Still a low number, but if elected officials wish to correct the problem associated with potentially fraudulent voting activities, they need to focus on the campaigns themselves and not the people voting.
To contact Representative Anderegg, click here or call 801-901-3580
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Need for Legislation:
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker