Utah House panel backs bill to end 11th-hour absentee voting

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A bill that would prevent voters from casting absentee ballots on the weekend or Monday before an election passed a House committee on Thursday.

HB390 was drafted to help county clerks update their voting rolls so someone who casts an absentee ballot on the Monday before the election couldn't turn around and vote again on Election Day.

Jason Yocom, deputy clerk for Salt Lake County, spoke out against the bill, saying 5,000 voters cast absentee ballots on the Saturday and Monday before the official election.

"It's very much our job to provide this service to voters," Yocom said.

But smaller counties said they didn't have the staff or time to get eleventh-hour absentee ballots updated on voter rolls before Election Day because of electronic-voting technology.

Rep. Jim Bird, R-West Jordan, supported the bill with the condition that he would work with the sponsor, Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, to remove first- and second-class counties from it, saying it would disenfranchise too many people in those larger areas.

Rep. Douglas Aagard, R-Kaysville, originally ran legislation opening up early-voting and absentee voting, but supported this measure.

"It's incredible to me," he said. "I ran those bills that did early voting and absentee ballots, and I look at the giant strides we made, and folks just can't make adjustments."

The bill passed 5-3 and now goes to the full House.