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Bill to boost countable ballots passes House, moves to Senate

Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, speaks during a roundtable at the Salt Lake Chamber, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. A bill sponsored by Chavez-Houck that would clarify Utah laws about mailed ballots that are eligible for counting passed through the Utah
Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake, speaks during a roundtable at the Salt Lake Chamber, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. A bill sponsored by Chavez-Houck that would clarify Utah laws about mailed ballots that are eligible for counting passed through the Utah House of Representatives Tuesday.
Michelle Tessier, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to help maximize countable Utah voter ballots passed through the Utah House of Representatives on Tuesday.

HB220, sponsored by Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, would clarify Utah laws about mailed ballots that are eligible for counting, which would help to ensure no ballots are turned away for technicalities within the state’s voting system.

The law would provide that as long as a ballot is clearly post-marked as having been received by a post office before Election Day, then it is timely and eligible to be counted.

Chavez-Houck said the clarification was necessary because current law requires a postmark stamped at the Salt Lake City Post Office. So at times, when voters mail ballots from rural post offices, it may take at least a day to receive the postmark from the Salt Lake City Post Office.

HB220 clarifies if the ballots are post-stamped by local post offices before Election Day, they are eligible to be counted, even if they don’t receive the postmark from the Salt Lake City Post Office until after Election Day.

The bill advanced through the House floor with a 68-0 vote and was sent to the Senate for consideration.

— Katie McKellar