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Utah’s top elections officer, Lieutenant Governor Olene Walker, wants the state’s election laws changed to allow voters to cast ballots up to 10 days before primary and general elections.
It’s not a bad idea!
The recommendation comes as the state is about to discard outmoded punch card voting systems and purchase hundreds of computerized voting machines worth millions of dollars. Uncle Sam is paying for most of the conversion to help states comply with the national voting reforms enacted in the wake of the 2000 presidential election debacle.
Some 26 states already provide for some form of early voting during elections. For the most part, it is deemed successful. It doesn’t necessarily increase voter turnout. Rather, it reduces costs while making it significantly more convenient for citizens to exercise their franchise. In Utah, it would enhance an enormous capital investment by making better use of the expensive new voting machines.
Some lawmakers are balking at the idea, though. They worry it will adversely affect their campaigns – cost them more money and last minute grief. In KSL’s view, that should be the least of their concerns. The decision to extend voting periods in Utah ought to be driven by what it will do for voters rather than any perceived inconvenience to candidates.