Where The Candidates For Utah Lieutenant Governor Stand On Voting Issues
One of the main responsibilities of Utah’s lieutenant governor is to oversee elections. Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, and Democrat Karina Brown both said they’re proud of the state’s voting systems, but want to make it more easily accessible to voters and more secure.
Vote by Mail
Brown and Henderson each said they’re proud of the state’s universal vote by mail system, but want to pursue changes that would make it run smoother.
Henderson said most Utahns trust the state’s vote by mail system because Utah has done it successfully for years. But, if elected, she said she’d work to build that faith in the system even more.
“That signature verification piece is something that I would like to make sure that is uniform throughout the state,” Henderson said, “So that we know what the standards are that each of the county clerks are actually implementing to check those signatures.”
Brown said she would focus on making mail-in voting more accessible to marginalized groups.
“[I would focus on] promoting the success of Utah's vote by mail system, that it's safe and secure, but also encouraging people to register to vote and reaching out to different minority communities to make sure that they know that their voices and their votes matter,” she said.
Utah County currently has a pilot program in place that allows members of the military and people with disabilities to vote online using blockchain technology. Henderson said, if elected, she would work to bring that to the whole state, as long as she can make sure it’s secure.
“I know there are people who just kind of ideologically are opposed to being able to vote very easily,” she said. “But I'm not one of those. I think voting shouldn't be arbitrarily difficult, but we do want to make sure that it's safe and secure.”
But Brown said she would want to lay the groundwork for implementing online voting eight to 10 years down the road.
“[I support] researching secure and cost conscious online voting for elections eight to 12 years in the future,” Brown said. “It's too expensive and not secure enough to do now.”
Candidate Signature Gathering
SB 54, passed by the Utah State Legislature in 2014, allows political candidates to qualify for the primary ballot through gathering signatures or being nominated by their party’s convention. Previously, they could only gain access to the ballot through their party’s convention.
Brown said the law is good for the state’s political system.
“Our democracy is stronger when we have diverse candidates on the ballot,” she said. “So I think anything that helps there be an increase in participation for people running for office, I think is a good thing.”
While Henderson said she also supports more access to the ballot, the signature thresholds are too high.
“I don't think that we should be excluding people from the ballot just because they don't have millions of dollars spent on signature gathering or whatever,” she said. “It's a really high bar and difficult. So you miss out on good candidates that way.”
Ranked Choice Voting
One impact of allowing so many candidates on a primary ballot is that a candidate can get less than 50% of the vote and win.
“A way to solve that — to have instead of a plurality to have the majority — is to do ranked choice voting,” Henderson said. “So I wouldn't mind seeing that expanded.”
Brown said she supports expanding ranked-choice voting in races that don’t cross county lines, but not in statewide races right away.
“If they did it for statewide elections, then the elections would need to be tabulated by the state instead of at the county level for any races that Cross County lines,” Brown said. “[So I support] starting out with baby steps at more local races and then see[ing] how that goes to perhaps expand that to statewide in the future.”
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 23 at 5 p.m. Those who miss the deadline can register in person on Election Day or during early voting and cast a provisional ballot.