Letter to the Editor: How Utahns Can Vote During a Pandemic


(Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

By Lauren Harvey


With the 2020 Election rapidly approaching and increasing doubts that are circulating about the efficacy and security of voting by mail, knowing the voting laws of one’s state is as important as it has ever been. Luckily for Utahns, the Utah State Legislature unanimously passed S.B. 6007 during the most recent Utah Legislative Special Session. This bill places temporary changes to Utah Election Code for the 2020 general election. It details how voting will take place, measures that can be taken to address postal delays and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to S.B. 6007, the 2020 elections will be conducted primarily by mail in Utah. This process is familiar to most Utahns as we have an established and robust vote-by-mail system. The Lieutenant Governor’s office will conduct a campaign to encourage voters to vote by mail rather than in-person due to COVID-19. This campaign will also educate voters about how to update their voter registration.

However, in-person and early voting will still be allowed despite the pandemic. Counties are required to provide either traditional indoor voting, outdoor drive-up or walk-up voting. Same-day registration and voting with a provisional ballot will be available at these voting locations. As long as you are in line to vote by 8 p.m. on Election Day, you are guaranteed an opportunity to cast your vote. Drop boxes for dropping off your ballot will be available until 8 p.m. on election day and ballots can also be taken to the County Clerk’s office of your county.

Precautions for postal delays are also being taken. If a county is deemed to have a significant risk of timely-mailed ballots being postmarked late, the county will work with the post office to develop a system of separating and date-stamping ballots to reflect when they were mailed. Additional drop boxes will also be available at least two days prior to the election.

Senator Jani Iwamoto’s amendment would have extended the period of mailing ballots, but, unfortunately, it did not pass. This extension would have provided more time for voters to update their addresses and ensure they received a ballot due to the possible postal delays. That said, take some time now to register to vote, update your address, request an absentee ballot if you’re from out of state, and, of course, vote on November third!

— Lauren Harvey, ASUU Associate Director of Government Relations

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