Utah Rep. Phil Lyman Unveils Bill to Eliminate State’s Mail-in Voting System

Under the legislation, officials would have to take photos of each ballot and post images online.

(Trent Nelson | Tribune file photo) Ballots are sorted at Salt Lake County offices in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, November 4, 2020.

A Utah lawmaker is trying to get rid of the state’s mail-in ballot system with a bill that would also require independent post-election audits and require officials to post images of every ballot counted online so that people can check them.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Phil Lyman billing itself as a ballot initiative to end the state’s voting-by-mail system appears to be faltering.

There was a push by Republicans across the country to restrict or end mail-in voting following former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the method leads to widespread fraud.

In Utah, GOP leaders such as Governor Spencer Cox and Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson have championed the state’s mail system as safe and secure. And Henderson, whose office oversees elections in the state, said she opposes arbitrary measures that make it harder for citizens to vote – for example, eliminating all options except voting in person on Election Day. .

The law project, HB371, sponsored by Lyman, R-Blanding, would return the state to a system based primarily on voting at a polling place. Mail-in votes would be permitted in limited cases for people who cannot vote in person due to old age, hospitalization or disability or because they will be out of state.

The legislation also requires an independent audit of the results of every federal and gubernatorial general election in which the winner has won by less than 15 percentage points. As part of the audit, the clerks of the randomly selected precincts would have to manually count the ballots and compare them with the reported vote count.

Lyman also wants cameras to record the vote counting process in all elections, with footage of each ballot posted online “so that the ballot can be seen and the votes on the ballot.” votes counted by any individual”. Images of ballots should remain online for at least a year after the election, according to the bill.

The legislation will now be considered in the Utah House of Representatives.

This story will be updated.