This week, UAC staff met with the Lt. Governor’s Office, county clerks, and representatives from the League of Cities and Towns to discuss possible changes to the election code. In the years since the Help America Vote Act, a lot has changed in the way Utah’s citizens cast their ballots. From electronic voting machines, to early voting, and by-mail voting; elections have moved to the 21st century. Unfortunately, our Utah State Code hasn’t always kept up. We’ve changed much of the election law section of the code over the past decade, but in a piecemeal kind of way.
The consensus that came out of this week’s meeting was that we need to begin looking to rewrite the election law code. We anticipate this recodification effort taking several years to complete and will rely heavily on the Lt. Governor’s Office as well as county clerks to drive the discussion. While the formal plan is still in the works, it is anticipated that we’ll begin our efforts with the sections of the code dealing with initiatives and referendums and vote-by-mail. We hope to have the rewrites to these sections of the code ready for the 2017 Legislative Session.
Voting Equipment Selection Committee
In addition to a major rewrite of election law code (not to mention a Presidential Election in the Fall), county clerks are also busying themselves with the question of what the next generation of voting equipment will look like. This week the Lt. Governor’s Office’s voting equipment selection committee met for the first time. Established by statute, the committee’s purpose is to identify a viable replacement to Utah’s current election equipment.
The committee consists of a number of state IT experts as well as representatives from Box Elder, Carbon, Daggett, Davis, Duchesne, Salt Lake, Tooele, Utah, and Weber Counties and a member of UAC staff. Through the end of the year, the committee will evaluate the specific vendors and hopefully be available to make a recommendation in early 2017. While the committee will be recommending the next generation of election equipment, it will be up to individual county clerks and their commissioners to carefully decide at what time works best for them to make the switch. A number of counties have expressed an interest in moving from the old equipment as soon as 2017, while others feel they can make the existing system work for another election cycle or two.
Regardless of when counties make the switch, a detailed analysis of what Utah needs moving forward will be a big help as we begin discussing internally and at the legislature issues relating to funding Utah’s election system moving forward.