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Responsive Gov’s Grade TL;DR

Last year the Utah State Legislature made mostly pro-voter amendments to its election laws. However, it also needlessly rolled back the deadline for voters to change their party affiliation in presidential primary years. Accordingly, Utah received a B on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Utah Started at the Beginning of 2023

  • Automatic Voter Registration: No
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: Yes
  • Restoration of Rights: Prison Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: Vote By Mail
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
  • Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
  • ID Requirements: ID Requested, but not Required

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Utah as of 2022, we considered the state a top tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2023 activity against other top tier states.

How Our Tier Compares

  • COVI (2022): 8th 
  • EPI Score (2020): 38th
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 9/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): MEDIUM

2023: This Past Year

Legislative Action

The Legislature passed a number of pro-voter improvements. However, there were also a few setbacks:

  • H 303 revises standards for access to the voter registration database and requirements to protect certain individuals’ voter registration information as confidential. It also allows political parties and candidates to have access to protected individuals’ addresses for political purposes.
  • H 448 expands the lieutenant governor’s power as the chief election official for the state. It also revises notice and cure provisions for mail ballots, changes voter list maintenance obligations for both the lieutenant governor and local clerks, and requires an accessible voting method for disabled voters that are unable to vote by mail.
  • H 37 requires election offices to provide disabled voters that are unable to vote by mail with an accessible voting method. It requires the director of elections to issue signature matching and cure provision regulations, including a method for a disabled voter to verify their mail ballot that complies with the ADA. It also revises existing cure procedures to allow clerks to send voters notice of an issue within two business days, regardless of the method used to contact the voter, and requires clerks to send a cure affidavit, or link to a cure affidavit to the voter with the notice.
  • S 17 allows registered voters to remain a resident of their prior in-state address for 30 days after an in-state move, allows unhoused individuals to use a “non-traditional” location as their place of residence for voter registration purposes, and expands the definition of “covered voters” for overseas and military ballots to include a broader range of citizens that are living abroad during an election.
  • H 347 increases penalties for tampering with or destroying drop boxes or ballots deposited inside them.
  • H 69 requires election officials to provide notice of early voting options, including dates, times, and locations, starting 28 days before an election, instead of the current 19 days before.
  • H 162, similar to H 37, improves access for voters with a disability, by requiring election officials to provide an accessible voting method for voters unable to utilize vote by mail. It also provides safeguards to ensure that disabled voters’ that do vote by mail do not have their ballots disqualified for “inconsistent signatures” related to their disability.
  • H 269 requires the Office of the Legislative Auditor General to “conduct a biennial audit of elections and related processes.” This is in addition to the annual audit already conducted by the lieutenant governor.
  • H 365 significantly shortens the deadline for voters to change party affiliation in presidential primary years by requiring voters to make any party changes by early January instead of March 31, as is currently allowed.