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Same-day Voter Registration Extended to Early Voting Days

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Flickr Creative Commons

House lawmakers passed a bill Friday to slightly expand a pilot program aimed at getting more voters to participate in Utah elections.

Utah had one of the nation’s worst turnout rates in the last election.

Now some counties have opted to take part in a three-year experiment that allows voters to register and vote on election day. Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Sanpete and Kane counties haves seen more than twelve hundred additional voters cast ballots through the program.

“The processes are in place,” says Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City. “It was just an oversight on our part that we didn’t include early voting last year.”

Her bill to allow voters in participating counties to register and cast ballots on early voting days, too, passed on Friday. The vote was 63 to 2.

Chavez-Houck says lawmakers will have a chance to evaluate the idea after this year’s local elections and next year’s presidential and gubernatorial elections. She says some interesting trends are emerging.

“It’s across the gamut,” she said.” Yes, predominately our younger voters 18-24 are the ones that are participating in election-day registration. But there is a good breakdown across the demographic spectrum.”

Sen. Deirdre Henderson, R- Spanish Fork, will sponsor the measure in the Senate.

Judy Fahys has reported in Utah for two decades, covering politics, government and business before taking on environmental issues. She loves covering Utah, where petroleum-pipeline spills, the nation’s radioactive legacy and other types of pollution provide endless fodder for stories. Previously, she worked for the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah, and reported on the nation’s capital for States News Service and the Scripps League newspaper chain. She is a longtime member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors. She also spent an academic year as a research fellow in the Knight Science Journalism program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In her spare time, she enjoys being out in the environment, especially hiking, gardening and watercolor painting.
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