POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Shifting Utah’s municipal election dates ‘last resort’ says Lt. Gov.

Jun 15, 2023, 11:56 AM | Updated: Jun 27, 2023, 3:27 pm

SALT LAKE CITY -- HB2001 passed unanimously in Utah's House of Representatives and with a close vot...

Member of Utah’s legislative body wait to listen to Utah Chief Justice Matthew B. Durrant give the state of the judiciary speech in the House of Representatives during the first day of the 2023 legislative session at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — H.B. 2001 passed unanimously in Utah’s House of Representatives and with a close vote of 27-1 in the Senate, officially changing Utah’s municipal election dates.

The primary was pushed back three weeks from Aug. 15 to occur on Sept. 5 — with the general election taking place on Nov. 21. That’s two weeks later than its original date.

Passing H.B.2001 means that county clerks and election workers will scramble to prepare themselves, and voters, for the issues they’ll encounter because of the shift.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson told Dave and Dujanovic that shifting dates was the best of the bad options they faced. 


 

Why push the general election back two weeks?

The bill delayed the general election to buy counties time to conduct the elections as smoothly as possible, Henderson said.

When running an election, counties are required to carry out tasks such as proofing and printing ballots and mailing ballots to overseas and military voters 45 days before the election. Once the votes are in, they need time to canvass the results, confirming they are accurate and certified. 

“There’s just some set timeframes that we really can’t shrink more than we did,” Henderson said. 

Shifting the dates was not ideal.  Henderson said she felt it was a last resort. 

“Pulling a rabbit out of a hat type of decision that was made after every other decision was looked at and exhausted,” she said.

Will Utah voters show up?

Lawmakers are concerned that this sudden change could complicate things for voters, leading to a decline in voter turnout. Hoping to combat this confusion, the bill appropriates up to $400,000 for voter outreach.

“We felt like that, as you said, was a critical component to add to the bill this year to make sure that we can get the word out when those dates are to the voters,” she said.

On top of educating voters, Henderson’s goal is to fill the seat as quickly as possible to ensure Utahns do not go underrepresented in DC.

“We care deeply about the citizens of the 2nd Congressional District, and they have a right to have a voice in Congress,” she said. “We didn’t want that seat to be empty for six months.” 

Learn more about how to register to vote in Utah.

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Shifting Utah’s municipal election dates ‘last resort’ says Lt. Gov.