HB36: Utah lawmakers propose changes to voter registration deadlines


Utah voters would be able to register up to 11 days prior to an election under amendments proposed to Utah Election Code.

HB36, a bill sponsored by Rep. Suzanne Harrison, D-Draper, would consolidate Utah’s voter registration deadlines to a single deadline of 11 days prior to an election. The bill would still permit same-day voter registration on Election Day. 

Harrison said at a hearing Jan. 28, that HB36 “establishes a norm and a clear expectation for our citizens of what to expect with each election.”

As part of the proposed amendments, all Utah voters would receive a ballot in the mail for every election in which they are eligible to vote unless they request otherwise. Although ballots would be mailed, voters would still be able to participate in early voting and in-person voting on Election Day, Harrison said.

Harrison said that the bill helps to reduce the confusion that can stem from multiple registration deadlines. Currently, Utah has different deadlines for voter registration based on whether the registration is completed online, by mail or in person.  

Davis County Elections Manager Brian McKenzie, who was involved in drafting HB36, said that technology and other resources make the 11-day deadline feasible for county employees to distribute ballots to registered voters in time for the election.

“Our first goal was to simplify that so that we could more easily communicate,” he said. 

In addition to modifying the voter registration deadline, HB36 updates statutory code to reflect how the election process is currently administered in Utah, Harrison said. McKenzie added that certain details in the existing statute are outdated because the forms that poll workers use have changed. 

According to McKenzie, HB36 is more general and will remove “antiquated sections of the statute that are no longer applicable to what we do in the state of Utah.”

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, voiced her support for the bill.

“I think that this bill is an important clean-up,” she said. “It provides a couple of clarifications that we needed to have in the law already.”

HB36 passed unanimously in the committee meeting and will move on to the House floor for voting.

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