(KCPW News) A resolution recognizing Utah’s clerks and election workers for their efforts during the 2020 election cleared the Utah House of Representatives on Tuesday, but not before language endorsing vote-by-mail and commemorating the security of the recent election was stripped out.
House Concurrent Resolution 11, by Salt Lake Democratic Representative Joel Briscoe, sought to commemorate the historically-high turnout in Utah’s November election and the efforts of poll workers in the state.
The recent election saw the highest number of voters in the Utah history, with more than 1.6 million people going to the polls.
In addition to “expressing appreciation and admiration for the election officials” Briscoe’s resolution also stated that “the experience in Utah proves vote-by-mail is a successful, secure, and voter-friendly model for election administration.”
Utah County Republican Rep. Norm Thurston said that language was contentious.
“There’s a significant difference of opinion in my district about whether mail-in balloting is correct,” Thurston told fellow lawmakers on Tuesday. “There’s a significant difference of opinion about how fraud was handled across the country,” he said.
Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, introducing a substitute version HCR11 on Feb. 16, 2021.
Thurston introduced a substitute version of the resolution that stripped out references to vote-by-mail and election safety.
“What [the] 2nd substitute does is it tightens down the focus of this resolution to something that we all agree on: that our clerks and election workers did an awesome job.”
Various Republican lawmakers supported that change, including Blanding Rep. Phil Lyman, who called recognizing the “success” of the 2020 election “presumptive.”
Rep. Briscoe spoke against the substitute motion, calling the concept of vote-by-mail “integral to the success” of the election.
“If 92% of the people in Utah had not voted by mail, we would’ve exposed a lot more election workers and volunteers to coronavirus,” Briscoe said.
Thirteen Republicans joined the Democratic House minority to vote against Rep. Thurston’s substitute, but that was not enough to prevent its adoption and passage.
Lauren Simpson, policy director with the progressive government watchdog Alliance for a Better Utah said the vote was “disappointing.”
“After witnessing numerous unfounded claims about the 2020 election over recent months, including legal challenges and an attack on the U.S. Capitol, it’s disappointing that more than half of Utah’s state representatives would choose to further undermine public confidence in the past election,” Simpson said.