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AARP Utah Fights Bills to Limit Vote-by-Mail Ballots, Voter Assistance

State lawmakers in Utah recently introduced a series of bills that would have made voting harder by limiting access to vote-by-mail ballots and creating new barriers for people who need help casting their ballots. But AARP Utah worked with lawmakers to ensure these changes weren’t signed into law.

One bill, HB 371, would have eliminated universal voting by mail in Utah, where all voters automatically receive a mail-in ballot. The bill also would have set up a more restrictive process for requesting an absentee ballot and banned ballot drop boxes and drive-through polling locations. AARP Utah urged lawmakers to oppose the bill and it failed to generate enough support before the state’s legislative session closed in March.

AARP Utah also worked to change a bill which, as originally written, would’ve added new voter ID requirements and created additional paperwork for people who help voters cast vote-by-mail ballots. The new requirements would have disproportionately impacted older voters, people with disabilities and residents of long-term care facilities. The state office worked with state lawmakers on an amendment that dropped the bill’s more restrictive measures.

"AARP Utah believes policymakers should encourage maximum participation in our electoral process by providing various options to vote," says Danny Harris, AARP Utah's Advocacy Director. Harris notes voter turnout topped 90 percent in the 2020 general election "thanks in part to our vote-by-mail system and other voting options."

Utah is one of dozens of states to consider or introduce new voting laws ahead of the 2022 elections. Read our guide to voting in Utah, or see how voting procedures may have changed in your state.

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