This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The good news is that the lieutenant governor's office has made it possible to register to vote or update your voter registration address by going online at http://vote.utah.gov
The bad news is that if House Bill 253 passes, approximately 230,000 of 1.47 million registered Utah votes will be removed from voter registration records. These voters have been placed on an "inactive" list. They have moved, as many have with this recession and life in general, not voted in the last two general elections and not updated their registration.
Most of us don't think of updating our registration when moving, unless we are preparing to vote again. Utah has one of the lowest voting percentages in the nation, a dismal 34 percent, so we may still live in Utah, yet our names will be removed. My point is that voter turnout is bad enough as it is. Don't do something that hinders a voter suddenly wanting to participate.
The other bad news is Senate Bill 019. If passed in the new legislative session, it will eliminate the government's requirement to mail voter information pamphlets to voters. The information will be posted online to reduce costs, unless a voter requests it mailed. I say both mail and post online. Don't leave anyone out on voter education.
A county clerk told me that voter registration rolls are cleaner than they ever have been and that there is no reason to remove inactive voters. Even if Utah tries to pass the voter removal bill, it may likely violate the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, wasting Utah time and litigation costs.
Let's not remove voters from the rolls simply because they have given up on believing their vote will count. Let's not yet do away with the familiar by stopping the mailing of voter pamphlets. Let's hear legislators instead tell citizens that they want to make it easier for everyone to participate.
Last year's redistricting process failed to make people believe in government fairness because Republican legislators protected their incumbencies and diluted unwanted votes while creating new voting districts. Let's not add further damage to this slight on democracy.
Utah's GOP chairman, Thomas Wright, asked legislators in a recent Tribune op-ed to create a way that permits permanent mail-in registration. This is an excellent idea, one I hope to see legislators implement.
Also, if our government is willing to go part-way with technology, then go all the way. Give citizens same-day voter registration and E-Signatures for petitions. The risk of fraud has been almost eliminated through Utah's new signature-verification system.
When you renew your driver license, the division scans and places your signature on a statewide database. It uses your original birth certificate and a second valid form of identification, then matches it with your signature electronically. This is why many of us can now register and update our voter registration online. Soon, almost all Utah adults will be on this system.
Gov. Gary Herbert, quoted in Utah Policy, said that "Utah.gov is repeatedly recognized as the leading state e-government solution in the nation, including its unprecedented haul of 16 awards in 2011."
I applaud Utah government's technological successes but challenge our Legislature to go beyond partisan politics, beyond personal motivations, and use technology to add to and expand citizen participation. We need more ways to participate, not fewer.
Kelli Lundgren is with Represent Me Utah!, a nonpartisan citizens group promoting fairness in government and greater citizen participation. Voter information links and status on mentioned bills can be found at http://www.RepresentMeUtah.org