Utah has gone from a state with one of the highest rates of voter turnout in the nation to one of the lowest in the past 30 years, and a group of Democrats and Republicans are banding together to find out why. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, revealed a new piece of bipartisan legislation Friday, HB200, that would create a task force to find out why Utahns are not voting. Arent said the task force would study voter trends in Utah and other states, review possible administrative barriers to voting, and look at other Utah-specific issues that might be affecting the turnout.
“That is what has made our country great. For over 200 years this grand experiment that we embarked on… that we could choose our own fate as a people,” Cox said. “We don’t want to lose that.” He called voter participation his “number one priority” as the state’s chief election officer.
The proposed task force would be expected to develop “concrete recommendations” to present in time for action next year. Then-Gov. Jon Huntsman appointed a “stengthening democracy” commission several years ago to address the same problems. While some of its proposals have been adopted — such as experimenting with Election Day registration and electronic filing of campaign disclosures — the key recommendation of campaign-donation limits was quickly rejected by Gov. Gary Herbert and the Legislature.