The Democratic National Party is excited about Utah’s new pilot project on same-day voter registration — even if it does help the opposition party sign up new voters in the GOP-dominated state. The Legislature passed a measure this session to allow counties and municipalities to have same-day registration in the next three years, a move that dovetails with Democratic efforts nationwide to increase access to the polls for Americans. Pratt Wiley, the Democrats’ national director of voter expansion, acknowledges that in deep-red Utah, the program could “absolutely” help Republicans. “Our job is to make sure we’re working so that everyone votes,” Wiley said this week, “not to make sure that Obama voters vote, not to make sure that Democrats vote; it’s to make sure that everyone votes. And so we recognize that this can help Republicans — especially in a state like Utah, it can help Republicans probably in a way that it doesn’t in some swing states.”
Over the past few years, the focus of the DNC and some outside groups has shifted from the reactionary response to voter access — such as Election Day lawsuits — to a more proactive approach to ensuring that polls are open to all qualified residents. In Utah currently, a resident, for example, must register to vote two weeks before an election. But the new bill, once signed by Gov. Gary Herbert, would allow a county or city to let that person register and cast a provisional ballot on the same day. Herbert’s office has yet to receive the bill but has expressed no opposition.