Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he doesn’t see the need now to call a special legislative session this spring to pass a law detailing how his administration would conduct a special U.S. House election. U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, who stunned state politicos by announcing Wednesday he won’t seek re-election in 2018, told KSL Radio’s Doug Wright Thursday morning that he “may” resign his seat before his current term ends January 2019. All Utah has currently is the U.S. constitutional requirement that the governor will call a special election to fill a U.S. House vacancy.
Articles about voting issues in Utah.
The Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission told a Utah federal judge that Utah’s San Juan County can’t dodge its bid to find the county liable for failing to provide equal opportunities to vote to Navajo citizens, saying that a 2016 plan by the county didn’t provide equally accessible polling places to Navajo voters seeking to vote in person. The commission and a handful of Navajo citizens on Friday replied to the defendant’s opposition to their motion for summary judgment in a suit against San Juan County and some of its officials that claims the county’s voting procedures hinder Navajo citizens’ ability to participate in the political process on equal terms with white voters, in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment.
Utah: Bill For Automatic Voter Registration With Driver’s License Renewal Heads To Full Senate | KUER
Members of a state senate committee approved a bill today Monday that would automatically update a person’s voter registration when they renew a driver license. Tens of thousands of voters move every year and don’t update their new address with elections officials, says Brian McKenzie, who works in the Davis County Clerk’s office. “A lot of people think that if they update their information with the post office or with the driver’s license (division), then it’s automatically transferred over to voter registration, which it’s not,” he says.
Utah: After unusual Republican Party support, Democrat passes election-reform bill | The Salt Lake Tribune
GOP legislators long had balked at a proposal by Democrat Rebecca Chavez-Houck for “ranked choice voting.” But after the central committee of the Utah Republican Party endorsed the idea last weekend, many lawmakers changed their minds. The House voted 59-12 to pass Chavez-Houck’s bill, HB349, and sent it to the Senate — where it is expected to face tougher sledding. The bill would create an instant runoff system in multi-candidate primary elections. Voters would rank their first-, second-, third-choice, etc. If no one achieves a majority initially, the lowest-vote-receiving candidate would be eliminated. Supporters of that eliminated candidate would have votes shifted to their second-choice. The process would repeat until someone wins a majority.
To vote in Utah’s Democratic primary caucus last year, Kellie Henderson of Salt Lake City had to walk at least a mile and wait in line for three hours.
Henderson told Utah lawmakers on Tuesday that she had to trek from her home to the elementary school where her caucus was held because there was no parking nearby. At the school, she had to wait in a line for three hours before overwhelmed party volunteers running the caucus were able to help her cast a ballot. “It was just chaos,” Henderson said Tuesday. Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, wants to avoid a similar mess and has sponsored a bill requiring the state to pay for and run a presidential primary every four years. “Political parties should be in the business of trying to win elections, not run them,” Arent said.
A rose by any other name smells as sweet, but a political candidate by another name could have an advantage on the ballot. That’s the premise behind SB269, which would have the state elections office wait until after the candidate filing deadline to generate its randomized alphabetical order for ballot listing. “The order a person appears on a ballot, especially in a nonpartisan race or in a primary, can affect the outcome of an election,” said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, the bill’s sponsor. Because the current practice sees the ballot alphabet released ahead of the filing deadline, Stephenson said, candidates are able to tweak their names for better positioning in the voting booth.
A bill seeking to limit access to voter registration records was held Wednesday by a House committee after concerns were raised about what information political parties and candidates would be able to see. The sponsor of HB348, Rep. Becky Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, agreed to continue working on the bill with members of the House Government Operations Committee. “This is a pretty significant policy change, a pretty dramatic one,” said Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, the committee chairman, adding that he wanted to “see what we can do to fine tune it.”
A bill that would have required all counties to provide same-day Election Day registration stalled in a House committee Thursday. HB285 would have enacted a five-year pilot program to expand on a test program that eight counties participated in over the past three years, but a majority of the House Government Operations Committee voted against giving the bill a favorable recommendation to the full House floor. “My concern is local control,” Rep. Norman Thurston, R-Provo, said, arguing individual county clerks should be able to opt into the program, not be required by the state. But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, said data collected over the past three years shows same-day Election Day registration does not cause problems with voting and helps more voters cast a ballot, even if they forgot to register ahead of time.
Memories of long lines, spoiled ballots and disgruntled voters were on the minds of lawmakers Wednesday when a House panel advanced two bills aimed at improving Utah’s elections. The House Government Operations Committee signed off on a proposal to create a statewide presidential primary and a bill requiring county clerks to pay the postage cost of mail-in ballots and to notify voters if their ballots are invalid. A third bill, making voter registration automatically linked to driver-license applications unless a person opts out, was held in committee, with lawmakers indicating that changes were needed before advancing to the House floor. Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, sponsored the presidential primary bill, arguing it would make it easier for Utahns to vote for a presidential candidate while avoiding the confusion and disorganization that occurred at the party caucuses last year. “Political parties should be in the business of trying to win elections,” Arent said, “not run them.” A presidential primary would cost $3 million, she said, with the bill requesting $750,000 each year. “We can do it in pieces or we can do it in one chunk,” Arent said. “But I hope that we can get there.”
Early voters in some Utah counties would be allowed to cast ballots on the day before an election under a bill a House committee approved Tuesday. State law permits early voting to start two weeks before Election Day, but not on the Monday before a Tuesday election. Salt Lake County turned away hundreds of voters in November who showed up to vote on Monday. HB105, sponsored by Rep. Craig Hall, R-West Valley City, would give counties the option to extend the last day of early voting to the day before the election.