Posted by Russell Daniels on March 25, 2021 at 11:08 PM
Voter registration bill restrictive, deserves veto
HB 197 Voter Affiliation Amendments is not a good bill. It mimics Republicans across the U.S in trying to limit voter participation. This Utah bill restricts when members of third parties can change their voter registration, to vote in the closed Republican primary.
HB 197 was introduced to prevent party raiding, namely voting in another party’s primary to weaken their nominee. But when some Utahans switched their affiliation in 2020, it was not to weaken a Republican candidate, but to support the most palatable ones! Utah voters know that only Republicans can currently win statewide races.
HB 197 limits voter flexibility to act on what they may learn about potential contenders in the 80 days before the primary. Unaffiliated voters may register with Republicans at any time, but members of other parties must make that decision early in the campaign process.
This bill reinforces widespread disaffection with partisan politics. Many Utahans already feel alienated from the Republican Party and they register only to have some say in who will govern the state. Fifty percent of Utah voters are not registered Republicans, and our voices also need to be heard early in the electoral process.
The underlying problem is the closed Republican primary. If Republicans want a closed primary, they should pay for it. It is wrong that all of us pay for a primary election when not all can vote in it.
The Utah House passed HB 197 with 40 for, 20 against, and 4 abstentions, thus showing considerable opposition to the bill. The Senate passed it after only cursory discussion: 22 for, 3 against, and 4 abstentions. Governor Cox should veto this bill. The Legislature passed some good bills this year, but HB 197 is not one of them.