Senator Wants to Do Away with Election Day Liquor Laws

Senator Wants to Do Away with Election Day Liquor Laws

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Gene Kennedy Reporting If you're heading out to dinner soon and want a glass of wine, you'll have to find another drink of choice, at least until 8 p.m. Until the polls close, restaurants can't sell any alcohol.

Private clubs have the exception: they can sell 3.2 beer. But don't count on a glass of Merlot or anything stronger.

Some restaurants say they're not impacted by this law at all, but the employees at one local bar would like to see the law change because they're losing a chunk of change.

Election Day at Port O' Call in Salt Lake City is not exactly the coveted shift. "It's definitely a slower day. I just had a guy walk out. I couldn't give him a Fosters like he wanted, so it does affect business," bartender Pete Bates said.

Port O' Call co-owner Deno Dakis says, "Fortunately it's a Tuesday, so it's gonna be hundreds of dollars instead of thousands."

Still, slimmer profits for the business and fewer tips for the bartenders. "I wonder what we'll have to give up to have it change," Dakis said.

Nothing, if Sen. Scott McCoy has his way. He's sponsoring legislation to repeal the law. "I think it's just an archaic, old kind of dusty part of the code. In the 1800s when taverns served as polling places and politicians tried to entice voters with a drink it probably made complete sense to have that kind of prohibition," McCoy said.

But today, elementary schools serve as polling places. Outside Bryant Elementary, some voters weighed in.

"It's just a very archaic law that I think should be eliminated," voter Doug Craig said.

Lisa Ralston, also a voter, said, "It should be up to the people and not the government what days we shut down and what days we don't."

"I don't think it would make a difference whether it was repealed. It wouldn't make a big effect on anything," voter Myra Harris said.

Tell that to the staff at Port 'O Call.

Senator McCoy admits finding allies to change liquor laws in a Mormon-dominated state will not be easy, but he feels it's worth a try. He says repealing this law would likely be an element of a larger bill revamping several liquor laws.

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