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.
“This program is valuable to our democracy,” Chavez-Houck said in a prepared statement after the vote. “I had hoped that after reviewing the facts, my colleagues would have voted differently.”
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, worried same-day voter registration increased Election Day wait times — a problem lawmakers and GOP leaders decried after last year’s presidential election.