House Passes Same-Day Voter Registration

For the second session in a row, the Utah House on Monday passed a same-day voter registration bill.


HB156 would set up a pilot program whereby a county or city could try out same-day voter registration, which would allow a citizen to register to vote on Election Day, and then cast a ballot.

A same-day registration bill passed the House in 2013, but was killed in the Senate by GOP lawmakers.

In 2013, then-state-GOP chairman Thomas Wright fought for the same-day registration.

As Wright told House hearings, Utah is more than 2-1 registered Republican.

And so it follows that most same-day voter registrees would, in fact, be Republicans.

It would be fair to assume that same-day voter registration would, then, help GOP candidates.

But in 2013 a number of GOP senators said they didn’t want same-day voter registration, fearing fraud or other problems.

Utah has no history of voter fraud, however. And many states are moving towards same-day voter registration as an attempt to increase voter turnout.

While Utah had some of the best voter turnout in the 1960s and 1970s, today it’s voter turnout is among the lowest in the nation.

Instead of going directly to same-day voter registration, HB156 by House Minority Assistant Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, sets up a pilot program, to be tested over the next few years, and then have reports back to the Legislature in 2016 to see if same-day voter registration should be implemented across the state.

All House Democrats voted for the bill, as did 28 Republicans; it passed 42-26. All 26 “nay” votes came from Republicans.

It now goes to the Senate, where GOP Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, is the co-sponsor.