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Q&A: Quick info about registering and voting

October 20, 2020

With the 2020 election upon us Sutherland Institute is publishing a Q&A series designed to answer common questions about voting, ballots, and the election. This is part 1 in the election series.

“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” This quote, spuriously attributed to Thomas Jefferson, still captures the importance of exercising the right and the responsibility to vote.

Voting is governed primarily at the state and local levels. So in order to fully engage in this civic process, it’s important to learn about and understand our state and local government.

The Lieutenant Governor’s Office in Utah is responsible for a number of state responsibilities including financial disclosures, lobbying registration, and (especially important right now) elections.

This week Sutherland Institute’s education policy fellow Christine Cooke spoke with Justin Lee, director of elections in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

Christine Cooke, Sutherland Institute education policy fellow: Some people are already getting their mail-in ballots. How can people register at this point?

Justin Lee: There are three different ways to register to vote in Utah. First, if you have a valid Utah driver license or Utah state ID, you can register online at voter.utah.gov.  Second, you can fill out a paper voter registration form and deliver it to your county clerk’s office either via mail or in person. Third, you can visit your county clerk’s office and register in person.

Your registration must be received by your county clerk’s office by 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020. However, if you forget to register before this deadline, you still have an opportunity to register to vote and cast a ballot!  Simply bring identification (such as a Utah driver license) and proof of residency (such as a recent utility bill) to an early voting location or a voting location on Election Day to register to vote.

Cooke: What are the biggest hurdles for people registering to vote, or even with voting?

Lee: Utah provides voters with numerous opportunities to register to vote and cast their ballots.  All active registered voters in the state will automatically receive a mail ballot.  If you need to replace your ballot or need to use voting equipment that offers accessibility features (e.g., an audio ballot), you may visit an in-person early voting location or Election Day voting location.

Cooke: How can people get a mail-in ballot?

Lee: If you are an active registered voter, you will automatically receive a ballot in the mail.  If you are not registered to vote, you will receive a mail ballot if you register to vote before 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020.

Cooke: How do people find where to vote in person?

Lee: You can visit vote.utah.gov and click on “How Can I Vote?” to find early and Election Day voting locations.  You can also contact their county clerk’s office.

Cooke: What state or other resources exist to learn about candidates?

Lee: You can visit vote.utah.gov and click on “Learn about Candidates & Issues” to learn more about the candidates, judges, and ballot propositions that are on your ballot.

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