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Emergency voting-procedures bill passes

Published March 1, 2013 11:19 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Legislators gave final approval Friday to a bill designed to allow elections to proceed even if earthquakes, wildfires or tornadoes hit.

The House voted 68-0 to accept Senate amendments to HB82, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature. It would allow the lieutenant governor and local election officials to alter normal places and times of voting during declared emergencies.

Its sponsor, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, has said the need was shown by Hurricane Sandy when it threatened the ability in voters in Eastern states to cast ballots last year. She said Utah law has been silent about how and whether local officials could alter normal balloting here in emergencies.

Rep. Spencer Cox, R-Fairview, also has said a wildfire prevented him and many of his neighbors from voting in last year's primary election — and state law did not permit the option of changing polling places or extending voting hours to let them cast ballots.

Lee Davidson