Record editorial: Take advantage of Utah’s new same-day voter registration
Despite the dearth of contested local races, participation in this year’s election is slated to be much higher in Summit County than it was for the midterms in 2014.
In fact, Summit County Clerk Kent Jones recently predicted that as many as 75 percent of registered voters will cast a ballot. That would be in line with the turnout typically seen in a presidential election year and would be a credit to both voters being more engaged and to the state’s convenient vote-by-mail system.
This year, a new group of voters will factor into turnout totals: People who want to cast a ballot but missed the traditional registration deadline of a week before Election Day.
That’s because Utah is now one of the nearly 20 states that allow same-day voter registration. People who show up to a polling place on Election Day mistakenly believing they were registered will no longer be rebuffed. Neither will residents who simply neglected to register by the Oct. 30 deadline for one reason or another.
If you’re an eligible voter, you’ll be able to cast a ballot, plain and simple. All you have to do is show up on Election Day to a voting center — there are four in Summit County — with a valid identification.
Same-day registration was one element included in an election reform bill state lawmakers passed with broad bipartisan support earlier this year. As part of the changes, Utahns will also be required to choose whether or not they want to register to vote when they renew their driver’s licenses.
They are common-sense tweaks in line with the most basic ideals of our democracy. It’s refreshing to see lawmakers enact measures that actually encourage voter participation rather than the other way around. It’s in stark contrast to the situation in many other states, where efforts to actively suppress the vote are common — and all too often successful.
In fact, combined with the vote-by-mail system that allows people to participate in elections at their leisure from the comfort of their homes — thus avoiding Election Day lines — the changes make Utah one of the more voter-rights-friendly states in the nation. That’s something that should bring pride to Utahns of all political persuasions.
Of course, improvements like same-day registration only matter if we utilize them. With that in mind, residents who neglected to register to vote by Oct. 30 should show up on Tuesday and take advantage of the opportunity to perform their civic duty.
For information about casting a ballot on Election Day at one of the four voting centers in Summit County, visit co.summit.ut.us/270/Clerk. For information about same-day registration requirements, visit vote.utah.gov.
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