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ACLU of Utah fact sheet on S.B. 53

22 March 2010 Published in Legislative Work

SB 53 "Voter Challenge Amendments" will protect our right to vote and strengthen community confidence in Utah's voting process!

Utah State Senator Peter Knudson (R-District 17) is the sponsor of SB 52, "Voter Challenge Amendments," which seeks to strengthen the integrity of the process by which voter eligibility can be challenged. This bill is the culimination of several years of work by Utah County Clerks, the AARP, the Disability Law Center, the ACLU of Utah and other voting rights' advocates.

SB 53 is an important step forward in preserving and upholding the Constitutional right of Utahns to vote and will help inspire greater confidence in the voting process by the electorate.

How does SB 53 protect voters?
SB 53 modifies the way in which voter eligibility may be challenged. This will make it more difficult for the process to be manipulated in order to illegitimately disenfranchise lawful voters for political or other purposes. Currently, an individual can challenge a voter's eligibility without that voter knowing about the challenge - until the hopeful voter arrives at their polling place on Election Day. The voter then has to complete a provisional ballot rather than cast a regular balllot, as unchallenged voters are able to do; provisional ballots are much more likely to be thrown out based on technicalities.

Why do we need to improve this part of the voting process?
The ACLU of Utah witnessed first hand how Utah’s current voter challenge law was misused to wrongfully accuse a large number of Ogden voters of being ineligible to vote during the 2007 election. Additionally, this tactic has been used in other parts of the state, and against other groups of voters to dissuade eligible and lawful voters from exercising the right to vote.

How will SB 53 impact legitimate voter challenges? How will it affect the work of Election Day officials?
SB 53 will protect the ability for appropriate voter eligibility challenges to be made, but it will also give the challenged voter the opportunity to prove her or his eligibility (without missing out on the chance to participate in Election Day). In addition to assuring that the challenge process cannot be manipulated to exclude voters for political or other reasons, SB 53 actually streamlines the challenge process and free up election official time on Election Day to deal with real election issues.

Follow this bill! Track SB53 at the State Legislature: http://le.utah.gov/asp/billtrack/track.asp
Take Action! Find your state legislator (http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp) and email them TODAY! 

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