OGDEN — U.S. lawmakers debating a measure that would overhaul U.S. election guidelines got input from Northern Utah — Weber County Clerk-Auditor Ricky Hatch, to be exact.
Hatch on Thursday addressed a hearing of the U.S. House Committee on House Administration on the measure, House Resolution 1, offering his input as the top election official for Weber County. One of his key points — federal policy should give locales flexibility in crafting the rules governing elections.
“All 9,000 election officials throughout the country have the same goal of secure and fair elections and we share the desire to maintain the public’s trust in these elections,” he told the committee via video from his office at the Weber Center in Ogden. “At the same time, each county and state is wonderfully unique, with different geography, demographics, infrastructure and even weather. This variety underscores why the U.S. Constitution specifies that states identify and implement the most appropriate methods to serve their citizens.”
H.R. 1, or the For the People Act of 2021, was crafted by Democrats and, according to its summary, would “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants” and more. According to the measure’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland, the measure would expand access to voting and make sure “American elections are decided by American voters,” without outside interference.
GOPers have generally expressed opposition, according to Fox News, worried it would increase the power of the federal government in selection of leaders. Fox News says the U.S. House is expected to start formal discussion on the measure next week.
The focus of Hatch’s remarks was on the increased costs to state and local governments that would result from H.R. 1, if approved, and the difficulty in crafting a “one-size-fits-all” measure that’s workable across the entire country. Hatch, a Republican, also serves as chairman of the National Association of Counties’ Election Subcommittee.
Among other things, H.R. 1 would require local election officials to pay return postage on mail-in ballots. That would increase costs in Weber County alone by $31,000-$73,000, Hatch said. It would also mandate a longer early-voting period than currently required in Utah, bolstering costs in the county by around $39,000.
At the same time, provisions requiring automatic voter registration, among many other things, would potentially be difficult in some locales, Hatch said.