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Voting bills: One on hold, another waiting
by Tom Busselberg
Feb 20, 2006 | 250 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FARMINGTON -- Two bills that could dramatically change voter options were stalled Monday. HB 15, "Early Voting," would permit in-person voting during the two-week period immediately prior to election day. That bill is sponsored by Rep. Douglas C. Aagard, R-Kaysville. County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings and other clerks throughout the state have thrown their weight behind the bill.

"I think we can safely say early voting affects one-third to one-half of voting," he said. The other biggest portion of voters would cast ballots on election day, with a far smaller portion voting by absentee ballot.

"We don't have the voting staff or the machines" to handle voting only on one day, Rawlings continued. "That's the way we went through the voting process, assuming this bill would pass."

He noted that the Utah Association of Counties, all 29 county election officials were "extremely supportive" of the bill -- which was first introduced to legislators during summer interim session meetings.

Pat Beckstead, the county's election coordinator, and Rawlings have continued to express concern also about HB 347, same day or "Election Day Registration."

"The Common Polling Place Bill allows us to use fewer poll workers, which are so difficult to obtain," Beckstead said. "We will have to add an additional person, if not two, to each polling location to handle the registration" if the Election Day bill passes.

"We will have to have just as many workers as we have now," if it passes, she predicted. "We hear, over and over again, about protecting an election and not letting people vote who are not eligible, but Election Day registration compromises our process.

"We need the early cutoff on registration to make certain results are secure," Beckstead added.

HB 15 was technically on hold in the 3rd reading calendar, while HB 347 was in the rules committee, Monday, as the Clipper went to press.
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