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Push For Automatic Voter Registration Gets New Life

Austen Diamond

Automatic voter registration is gaining traction in statehouses across the country. A bill making its way through the legislature could make it a reality in Utah. 

Sen. Deidre Henderson’s bill, S.B. 112, would automatically register Utahns to vote while getting a driver's license, unless they opt out. 

Credit Brennan Center For Justice
As of Dec. 2017, at least nine states and the District of Columbia, had AVR laws. More than two dozen others are considering it.

She said other states that have gone this route have seen a dramatic increase in participation.

“The practical side of me says let’s clear out arbitrary obstacles, let’s make sure that people have the option to exercise their fundamental rights — their constitutional rights — and at the same time streamline and modernize and update the process," Henderson said. 

The Senate Business and Labor Committee gave the bill a unanimously favorable recommendation. Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, is sponsoring a similar bill in the House.

An automatic voter registration bill passed the House last year, but later died in the Senate. Henderson said 28 of 29 county clerks support the effort. 

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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