SALT LAKE CITY – Another common sense bill to increase election integrity has sailed through the Legislature and is enroute to the desk of Gov. Spencer Cox.
“Although Utah works hard to ensure accurate and secure elections,” says state Sen. Chris Wilson, R-District 25, “ballots are still occasionally mailed to deceased voters. House Bill 12, entitled Deceased Voter Amendments, creates a more uniform process to rectify this issue.”
When a Utahn passes away, Wilson explains, the proposed statute would require that a copy of his or her death certificate be sent to the lieutenant governor’s office within five business days. That document will then be forwarded to the appropriate county clerk’s office, where the deceased individual’s name will be stricken from local voter rolls.
HB 12 also directs the lieutenant governor to verify the names of Utah’s registered voters against Social Security databases prior to each election cycle, Wilson adds.
The new law was proposed by state Rep. Mike Winder, R-District 4, and sponsored by Sen. Michael McKell, R-District 7, on the other side of the Capitol.
The measure received overwhelming support in both chambers of the Utah Legislature, passing the House by a 73-to-2 vote and in the Senate by a 25-to-4 vote. The bill’s text is now being finalized and will shortly be sent to the governor for review.
Although his office is already ahead of the game when it comes to purging the names of decreased voters, Cache County Clerk Jess Bradfield nevertheless welcomes the passage of HB 12 in the Legislature.
“(Deleting deceased persons from voter rolls) is a best practice that we have already implemented,” Bradfield explains. “But it will be good to have HB 12 passed for those counties that have not implemented this practice.”
The issue of voting integrity is a sore spot for many Republicans following former President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 general election.
The former president’s loyal supporters allege that thousands of ballots may have been sent to deceased voters in battleground states where normal voter identification protocols were either weakened or nullified by judicial rulings due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Another proposal targeting election integrity now being debated in the Legislature is House Bill 70.
That bill, entitled Ballot Tracking Amendments, was forwarded by Rep. Dan Johnson, R-District 4.
If enacted, HB 70 will allow Utah voters to digitally track their mail-in ballots throughout the election process starting in 2022 and to correct any problems that might arise in the counting of their ballots.
With bi-partisan sponsorship, Johnson’s bill was passed by the members of the Utah House by a 72-to-3 margin and sent to the Utah Senate for review on Feb. 2.