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Utah's listeners are Utah's voters.Utah Public Radio is proud to partner with our fellow public broadcasters throughout the state to bring you Vote Utah 2012, comprehensive election coverage that focuses on educating voters.Check in here throughout election season for interviews, debates, and news coverage from throughout the state.Also visit VoteUtah.org for candidate profiles, election results, and resources for informed voting.

Voter ID Laws: Where Utah Stands

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Voter identification laws have made national news recently with various courts striking down laws in Wisconsin, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. Utah State University political science Professor Roger Tew said the fight over voter ID laws is complicated and often partisan.

“The argument is that voter IDs are relatively simple. We have to provide IDs for all kinds of things, it should be no different,” Tew said.  “Those who tend to be opposed to it on the other hand, the argument is there are people living in cities and older people who don’t have a need for a driver’s license, or a need to obtain normal IDs that often other people use.”

The need for ID can become a means of discouraging people from voting.

In total, 31 states in the U.S. have some form of identification requirement to vote, including Utah which put the current voter code into effect in 2009.

Justin Lee, deputy director of elections for the Lt. Gov.’s Office said that compared to the strictest states, Utah’s law requiring ID at the polls is lenient. 

“Ours is pretty broad in what’s allowed. So, we really haven’t heard of a whole lot of issues where someone can’t produce some of these things,” Lee said. It's a fairly lengthy list, and the list in the code isn’t even exclusive. It just says it needs to have something that shows the address and the name.”

According to a probe into state-by-state voter codes by the National Conference of State Legislatures, on a one to five scale from most relaxed to most strict, Utah ranks at about a two.

Voter fraud is the main reason most lawmakers push for firm ID laws. Lee said voter fraud is not a problem in Utah, but that could also be an indication that Utah’s system works.

“We haven’t see a lot of cases of voter fraud in Utah. So it is an issue, but it seems like the system we have in place strikes a pretty good balance between requiring identification, but not making it so stringent that people aren’t able to comply,” said Lee.

Even though some voter ID laws across the country have caused the judicial system to intervene, Lee said as far as he knows Utah has no plans to reduce requirements anytime soon.

Deadlines for voter registration in-person and online are Oct. 27 and 28 respectively. If you do make it out to the polls, make sure you have the correct method of identification.