ST. GEORGE – With Election Day at hand there’s no better time to review your rights as a voter.
For example, did you know that you have a right to time off from work so you can vote? Or that you can use alternative forms of identification to vote if you don’t have a driver’s license? That if you applied for an absentee ballot but didn’t mail it in yet, you can still vote but you must bring it with you to the polls?
Title 20A of the Utah Code covers the laws governing voting. For the intrepid soul who wants to read the code in depth, here is the link. For the rest of you, we’ve provided the following highlights.
Valid forms of identification
Utah requires valid identification to vote. The most common form of ID is a driver’s license, but what if you don’t have one? The following forms of ID are also acceptable:
- A valid ID card issued by the state or a branch, department or agency of the United States.
- A valid Utah permit to carry a concealed weapon.
- A valid United States passport.
- A valid tribal ID card, whether or not the card includes a photograph of the voter.
Two forms of ID that display the voter’s name and provides evidence that the voter resides in the voting precinct are also acceptable, and there are others: UT Voter ID and Process on ID challenge.
Time off work, influencing an employee’s vote, and intimidation/undue influence
- State law allows an employee the right to take two hours off of work to vote. An employer who violates this right is subject to a class B misdemeanor.
- No employer/corporation shall influence an employee’s vote or restrain an employee from voting in any way. Parties guilty of this act are subject to a class B misdemeanor.
- No person may intimidate or unduly influence another to vote or not to vote under any threats or infliction of force, restraint, violence, injury, damage, harm or loss. Persons or groups engaged in this behavior will be subject to a class B misdemeanor, along with any additional charges that may apply.
Absentee ballot holders – it’s too late to mail it – bring it with you to the polls
The absentee ballot is only valid if it is clearly postmarked before (not on) election day and received in the county clerk’s office before noon on the day of the official canvass. That means if you still have it as you are reading this, it’s too late. But you can still vote at the polls.
Take your absentee ballot with you to your polling place and the pollworker will cancel the absentee ballot, then allow you to cast your votes at the poll.
You will not be allowed to cast your votes on the absentee ballot and deposit it with the pollworker; you will not be allowed to vote at the poll if you applied for an absentee ballot unless you bring it with you to the polls for cancellation.
If your right to vote is challenged at the polls, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot
Voters may also wish to review potential challenges to their eligibility at time of voting.
If your right to vote is challenged for any reason, insist on completing a provisional ballot right there at the polls. The provisional ballot procedure for the poll workers and for you subsequent to completing a provisional ballot are itemized in the Election Code, Section 20A-3-105.5.
If a voter “spoils” a ballot by making a mistake of some kind – marking the wrong candidate for example – the voter has the right to obtain a new ballot.
Though the majority of voting is done electronically, mistakes may still occur on provisional ballots. It is completely within a voter’s right to ask for a new ballot if he or she feels the original ballot has been rendered invalid.
During a previous election, Tanya Reid, a Washington County resident who had planned to mail in her ballot, told St. George News she marked the wrong name while explaining election issues to one of her children.
Reid went to the county clerk’s office to retrieve a new ballot and was told the machines that scan absentee and provisional ballots work in a way similar to Santron test forms. If there was “too much carbon” on the form or it was stained with coffee or another substance for example, the ballot would not scan properly.
When in doubt as to whether a ballot will scan, get a new one.
Still in line when the poll closes? Not a problem
Utah law states polling places shall be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. If a voter should happen to be in line to vote at 8 p.m., or arrives at 8 p.m., he or she is still eligible to vote at that time under the law.
Prohibited activities at the polling location
- Electioneering: any oral, printed or written attempt to persuade persons to refrain from voting or to vote for or vote against any candidate or issue.
- A person may not, within a polling place or in any public area within 150 feet of the building where a polling place is located, engage in elements of electioneering.
- Engaging in any practice that interferes with the freedom of voters to vote or disrupts the administration of the polling place.
- A person may not obstruct the doors or entries to a building in which a polling place is located or prevent free access to and from any polling place.
- Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a class A misdemeanor.
For a complete list of prohibited activities at the polling place, visit Utah Code 20A-3-501.
A more detailed treatment of voting and the state code can be found here.
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