In 2013, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck came close to passing a bill that would require county and city clerks to allow voters to register and vote on election day. The bill was killed over a concerns about costs and possible fraud issues, but now Chavez-Houck has resurrected the bill as a pilot program that cities and counties would voluntarily opt into.---
With a pilot program, municipal and county clerks would be able to accept registration and then offer a provisional ballot on election day to a voter that would be counted after the vote was verified. As a pilot program participating counties would closely monitor the same-day votes and report back their findings to the Legislature to see if there are any concerns or abuse of the process.
“They're going to report on this every year so you can see through municipal, mid-term and presidential elections, we'll have all that data,” Chavez-Houck said. “We won't be dealing with hypotheticals anymore.”
Representatives of county clerks' offices were excited about the bill and said it was unlikely that someone could register and cast multiple ballots in different counties or cities on election day, because provisional ballots get verified through the state before the votes are registered.
Chavez-Houck explained that perhaps the biggest benefit would be allowing people to vote who through no fault of their own may lose that ability if their registration is lost.
She brought along 19-year-old Josh Richardson to testify of his experience of having been elected a county delegate at his 2012 caucus only to later try unsuccessfully to cast votes during the primary and general elections that year. Richardson found out too late that through some clerical error his voter registration was lost or misplaced.
“It was discouraging that my first votes did not count,” Richardson said.
Ultimately the committee agreed that a pilot approach was the best way to test out same-day voting and registration her bill was voted out of committee favorably and with a unanimous vote.
To read House Bill 156 click here. To contact Rep. Chavez-Houck about this bill click here. To find your legislator to contact them about this bill click here. For more updates from the hill visit CityWeekly.net and follow @EricSPeterson and @ColbyFrazierLP on Twitter.