Election security bill requiring mail-in voters to verify identities receiving bipartisan support

Feb 23, 2022, 6:16 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:55 pm
Federal law explains how you will need to confirm your ID when voting by mail. (KSL TV)...
Federal law explains how you will need to confirm your ID when voting by mail. (KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY – Some changes could be coming to vote-by-mail in Utah. A bill working its way through the legislature would require Utahns to show proof of their identity to vote.

There are several ways to register to vote in Utah. You can check a box when you get your driver’s license, or you register at your county clerk’s office and show them your license. In either case, elections officials know exactly who you are.

That is not the case for people who register to vote online, or by filling out a form at a festival or a register-to-vote rally. Up until now, proof of identity has relied on the honor system. Utahns registered to vote without ever really confirming they are who they say they are.

Perhaps that’s why there is broad-bipartisan support for H.B. 313, a bill that aims to protect election security in part by “requiring an individual who did not provide valid voter identification when registering to vote to provide valid voter identification when voting.” Even when voting by mail.

But wait, that begs the question: just who is checking the identity of a mail-in voter? The mail carrier? Of course not.

Actually, federal law spells it out: If you need to prove your identity in order for your mail-in ballot to be counted, you will get a notice that you must “submit with the ballot— (I) a copy of a current and valid photo identification; or (II) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.”

The bill would also allow your county recorder to refuse to register you at all until you show an ID, in which case you would not even get a ballot in the mail until you verify your identity.

The Weber County clerk told me the bill is well-drafted in that it allows for both approaches. Either way, the voter must provide ID to the same county elections staff before their ballot can be counted.

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Election security bill requiring mail-in voters to verify identities receiving bipartisan support