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Bill For Automatic Voter Registration With Driver's License Renewal Heads To Full Senate outline205

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.

When renewing a driver license, voters currently need to check a box in order to update their voter information. McKenzie told members of the Senate Government Operations and Political Subdivisions Committee on Monday that most people don’t realize that, which is one reason there was a huge wave of last-minute voter registrations in the days leading up to the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton’s House Bill 159 would change the current opt-in system to opt-out. Handy says while the bill has support from voter access groups and the Lt. Governor’s office, he didn’t draft it to make it easier to vote.

“This really is about government efficiency,” Handy told the committee.

Only one lawmaker voted to oppose the bill. Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, called the right to vote sacred and said the bill would make obtaining and casting a ballot too easy.

“You go in, you get a driver's license, they’ll send you something to your home and you mail it, and you put in no effort. I’m not sure that that honors the price of freedom that has been paid by those who pay it,” Dayton says.

The Senate Committee voted 5-1 to pass the bill. It now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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