Who will be most affected by Phil Lyman’s bill to end voting by mail? Components by themselves. Robert Gehrke explains why.

The data showed that voting by mail spurred voter turnout in Lyman’s rural district. Maybe that’s the problem he’s trying to solve.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Robert Gehrke.

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Willis Begay is a busy guy.

When I spoke to him last week, he was operating heavy equipment in St. George. He sometimes works as a painter and sandblaster. And his work as a mechanical boiler will often take him across the state and country.

He usually comes home for the weekend, but other times he just has to stay until the job is done.

With an unpredictable schedule and a lot of travel, it’s convenient for him to be able to vote by mail when elections happen.

And as president of the Oljato Association of the Navajo Nation, he knows he’s not alone.

“It’s not like we have votes [boxes] on every corner,” he said. “Out here, you have to drive about 20 or 50 miles” to vote in person.

But that will be the situation he and others will face if his agent, Phil Lyman, succeeds in passing sweeping changes to Utah’s election law.

Lyman’s HB371 will eliminate voting by mail in favor of in-person voting on Election Day. In limited circumstances where absentee voting is permitted, a voter will be required to include a copy of their voter identification card.

It makes a bunch of other changes – it will be necessary to check if federal or superintendent candidates complete within 15 points of each other; cameras will be installed in vote counting locations; Pictures of the ballots will need to be posted online for at least a year so any member of the public can count them.

Naturally, all of this stems from his false belief that widespread voter fraud turned the election against his man, Donald Trump – who pardoned Lyman for his conviction during an ATV rally in 2014.

Lyman claims to have evidence of “irregularity” in Utah election but won’t share them when asked by my colleague, Bryan Schott.

Lyman is a supporter of former Representative Steve Christiansen, who came up with the outlandish conspiracy theories that voting machines across the country were programmed with an algorithm to dictate the results and scores of thousands of ghost voters were counted in Utah – that’s a lot of effort to hold an election in a state that doesn’t matter.

If there are security concerns, legislative auditors are currently reviewing Utah’s election processes. Instead of waiting for that job, Lyman and others are rushing forward without the truth,

But here’s the worst part: While the bill doesn’t solve any real problems — at least none of which actually exist — Lyman’s bill, if it passes, would make things became much more difficult for his own voters.

That’s because Lyman has The largest, most dispersed housing complex in the state. It spans all or part of seven counties and takes four and a half hours to drive through. Given the spread and countryside of the district, you might think these Utahns are exactly the people – people like Begay – who would benefit most from being able to vote by mail.

And you were right.

From 2012 (the last presidential election without voting by mail) to the most recent election in 2020, voter turnout increased significantly throughout the county, in some areas . Voter turnout in Garfield County increased by nearly 12% during that time; in Wayne County, it’s up 18 percent, and in San Juan County, where Lyman lives, it’s up 20 percent — the third-highest increase in the state for that time period.

Lyman voters have benefited from being able to vote by mail, meaning more and more Utahns have a say in their government, and they did it without any evidence of fraud. . Maybe that’s the problem Lyman is trying to solve?

Expropriation would be especially harmful to Navajo voters, who for years faced tougher obstacles and totally racist gerrymandering, this was only remedied when the federal courts intervened to protect their right to vote. Lyman’s bill would be a huge setback for them.

“It will make a big impact,” Begay said of the potential loss of voting rights in the letter. “This is one of the great concerns I have for my people. …. We were like the last people they wanted to help.”

Lyman’s bill is awaiting a hearing before a House committee, possibly this week, and it needs to be defeated by a landslide. Because our goal in running elections is to make voting easy and secure. This measure does none of that and disproportionately harms the rural voters Lyman represents – or is supposed to represent.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2022/02/23/who-would-suffer-most/ Who will be most affected by Phil Lyman’s bill to end voting by mail? Components by themselves. Robert Gehrke explains why.

Joel McCord

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