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Bill to clean up voter registration rolls passes Utah House

Published: Friday, Feb. 3 2012 8:25 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — An amended version of a Utah legislator's proposal to clean up voter registration rolls so that the state will rank higher on national voter participation surveys got full House approval Friday.

Critics had questioned whether the original version of HB253 complied with the National Voting Rights Act, or NVRA, which prohibits removing voters from rolls for not voting.

But the bill's sponsor, Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, told legislators that a step inserted into the proposal's 10-year-long removal process brings it into compliance.

"I don't think that the (amended) bill does what it has been accused of," Powell said. "I do think that the first version did that."

One of those critics, Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, agreed, saying she now supported the bill.

The original version would have required counties to send a notice to voters who fail to vote in two consecutive general elections. The notice would have inquired if the registered address were still correct. If the voter failed to respond or vote in two subsequent general elections, he or she would be taken off the rolls.

The new version inserted another step into the process — what Powell called a "trigger." Now, after two elections of not participating, counties would only continue the removal process if the U.S. Postal Service returned an incorrect address notice.

"We determined that as long as an official piece of mail comes from the USPS saying that the address is incorrect, it complies with the NVRA," Powell said.

The county clerk would then send another inquiry to the voter in an attempt to verify the USPS notification, according to the bill, and if the voter still failed to respond or vote in two more elections, the registration would be removed.

The bill now goes to the Senate for its consideration. 

E-mail: lbrubaker@desnews.com

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