Amid a torrent of tough to read stories about the decline of American democracy, some good news is most welcome. Some great news is coming out of Utah. From an article at the local KUTV news and was written by Hunter Geisel:
Voter turnout in Utah vaulted from 45th in the country to 13th in the course of four years, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.
The Pew Charitable Trusts stated in a May 8 article that Utah’s voter turnout jumped from 45th overall in country in 2014 to 13th in 2018, which was the first year all counties used both same-day registration and vote-at-home options, with increases ranging from 21 points in the state, where about 58% of the voting-age population voted. The Pew Trusts also stated that Utah also allows residents to automatically register to vote when they get a new driver’s license.
“The legislature has always passed the policies that take away barriers to voting, balanced with measures to make sure people are who they say they are,” stated Justin Lee, Utah’s director of elections, in the Pew Trusts article.
See full story here. The are various types of barriers facing voters including photo ID requirements, voting booth availability, the flexibility of poll hours, and the availability of time off from work with pay for voting. Some states even have financial penalties for the violation of deadlines or rules related to registration lists. Online voter registration, absentee voting, and early voting are some policies that clearly are shown to ease voting.
Some interesting related research was published in the Election Law Journal where authors Quan Li, Michael J. Pomante II, and Scot Schraufnagel outline an innovative voting index system in their report titled “Cost of Voting in the American States”. The index helps reveal amazing data on how voting barriers vary by state.
According to the index’s findings for 2016, “voting was most difficult in Mississippi and… voting was easiest in Oregon, which was the only state to make use of automatic voter registration in 2016”. The poor state of Mississippi’s democracy should be a surprise to no one. Mississippi has no online voter registration system, no same-day voter registration, and no early voting. Photo ID is required. As a result of state voting laws, this year “little more than 13 percent of Mississippi’s registered voters (245,100 people) cast ballots in the June Republican and Democratic primaries”.