SALT LAKE CITY — With the midterm election less than a month away, some county clerks may not be up to speed on a new, day-of voter registration option, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.
The ACLU characterized its findings as causing “grave concern,” and ones that could lead to potential voters being turned away from polling locations due to uninformed election workers.
An informal survey of eight county clerks’ offices conducted by the ACLU found anomalies that included a failure to post updated information on Election Day registration by two counties; an inability to confirm that poll workers were trained in the new program by three counties; and a contention, made repeatedly by an employee at one clerk’s office, that the vote-by-mail system had “eliminated” the need for Election Day registration. Another issue uncovered by the ACLU included voter information on one county’s website from 2016 that had not been updated.
ACLU of Utah’s legislative and policy counsel Marina Lowe said the issue surfaced when a staffer came across a county clerk’s website that did not include any information about the new Election Day voter registration and, on additional inquiry, encountered further issues.
“We have a long history of interest in making it easier for people to exercise their right to vote, and we’ve worked for many years to help get the legislation passed in Utah to get this policy implemented,” Lowe said. “Enacting is one part of the effort, but in order to have success, the people on the ground need to be ready to implement that policy.”
Lowe said staffers began reaching out to some county clerks with a short list of questions about Election Day registration preparedness that covered worker training, public noticing on websites and how polling places would be staffed and stocked to accommodate those who may wish to register and cast a vote during early voting as well as Election Day voting. She noted that while not all 29 Utah counties were contacted by the ACLU, the number of issues that arose just in the surveyed group was enough to raise concerns.
Those concerns are shared by the Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office, which oversees state elections, according to State Election Director Justin Lee. Lee explained that while the state does oversee the election process and coordinates certain processes, the statutory responsibilities of conducting elections, and all that goes with it, falls under the purview of clerks.
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Source:: Deseret News – Utah News