WASHINGTON, D.C. — Utah Republicans have introduced a bill that touches on several different parts of the voting process, limiting options for Utahns and reversing the state’s longstanding mail-in voting policy. House Bill 371 would ban drop boxes, drive-thru voting and community ballot collection and institute a post-election audit process.
Most notably, H.B. 371 would dismantle the state’s highly revered mail-in voting system after years of successful implementation, instead making in-person voting the primary voting method. Currently, all Utah voters are automatically sent a mail-in ballot at least seven days before an election; this system has been in place since 2013, making Utah one of only five states that had universal mail-in voting prior to 2020. H.B. 371 would turn back the clock nearly two decades by reinstating a short list of excuses required to request a mail-in ballot. Under H.B. 371, voters must be unable to physically vote at a polling place for reasons such as disability, age or being out of state during the early voting period and Election Day. Utah has not required an excuse to vote by mail since 2004.
Any effort to change the state’s longstanding mail-in voting policy is opposed by Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson (R). House Speaker Brad Wilson (R) indicated his openness to discussing the new bill but said he would “have a hard time seeing us completely getting rid of [automatic mail-in voting].” A group known as Secure Vote Utah was making a similar effort to overturn Utah’s mail-in voting policy; however, they failed this week to reach the threshold of signatures necessary to get the proposal on November’s ballot.