Utah primary election 2020: What's different in accessible voting
Sheri Newton, Disability Law Center
Note: Utah’s Primary Election day is Tuesday, June 30, 2020; however most votes will be cast by mail (more on that below). Party candidates will be selected for Utah Governor and Utah’s congressional districts, as well as some state legislators and Utah’s attorney general. To find out the options in your county, contact your county clerk. To find out more about registration, learn more about candidates, or update your party affiliation or ballot mailing address, visit vote.utah.gov. The state is also offering information on how COVID-19 is affecting the primary.
To find out more about accessible voting in 2020, keep reading!
HOW VOTING USUALLY WORKS AND WHAT’S DIFFERENT THIS YEAR
HB 3006 is a new voting law that allows for changes to election practices in response to Covid-19 and the need for social distancing.
In Utah, we are used to getting our ballot in the mail. When someone doesn’t receive a ballot there are usually vote centers where someone can go to update their registration and receive a ballot. For the June Primary, there is no early voting and Election Day options are limited. Consequently, every voter needs to be registered to vote (with their current address) by June 19th. In many areas, only the Republican Party has a ballot for this Primary. Therefore, only registered Republicans will receive a ballot.
Covid-19 has not changed the fact that voters who cannot read or mark a mailed ballot, have the legal right to accommodations and a private and independent way to vote. That is why every county has voting equipment with accessible features such as: large print, audio ballot and keypad, touchscreen, and high contrast. Those machines are usually available at Election Centers during early voting and on Election Day. This year, without in-person voting, County Clerks are exploring different ways to provide accommodations. Each county must let voters know how and when they can access accommodations by posting information:
- On their website
- In public notices
- With the mailed ballot
ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS SOME COUNTIES ARE CONSIDERING
In speaking to county clerks over recent weeks, we’ve learned that they are coming up with different plans to try to meet the needs of voters with disabilities. The options available depend on the county you live in. Here are some of the accommodations they are planning:
- Drive-through, outdoor, or curbside voting.
- Scheduled appointments for in-person voting
- Bringing the electronic device to the voter’s doorway.
- Sending an electronic ballot by e-mail. The voter completes the ballot on their own device, then prints and mails it back.
- Utah County has a voting app. For qualifying voters who sign up, they can navigate the ballot and mark their choices from a personal device.
The Disability Law Center invites you to join our efforts to ensure that:
- Voters with disabilities are informed of their options
- The options are reasonable and don’t include undue obstacles or expense for voters
- Accommodations are offered during the same time period that voters have opportunity to complete their mailed ballot, usually for 2-3 weeks prior to Election Day
If you have questions or concerns about voting, the Disability Law Center is ready to help. Contact them for assistance at: 800-662-9080 or on their website.
Bonus Voting Tip: No Stamp, No Problem! The postal service will deliver ballots without a stamp to the County Clerk’s office. The ballot will be counted and the Clerk will pay for the postage.