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Stay up to date on all the latest from the campaign trail with KUER's coverage of the 2014 Mid-Term Elections.

Third Party Candidates Fail to Qualify for Utah Debate Commission Debates

The Utah Debate Commission has finalized the list of who will be participating in this year’s mid-term election debates and the list only includes Republicans and Democrats.

Earlier this year the Utah Debate Commission decided that candidates would have to be receiving support from at least 10% of the people in their district in order for the commission to consider them a valid candidate. After conducting a survey, no third party candidates came even close to meeting that threshold, and three Democrats came pretty close to not qualifying as well.

Bill Barron is an independent candidate running in Utah’s 2nd Congressional District. He says it’s not fair that the commission won’t allow him to participate in the upcoming debate.

“For them to feel like I’m not a valid enough candidate is frustrating," he syas. "Anyone who’s willing to take on the effort to become a candidate and go through the process, like I did, to get signatures to be on the ballot, I believe should have an opportunity to express their voice, because to me, that’s what democracy is.”

Nena Slighting is the Executive Director of the Utah Debate Commission. She says the commission would love to see third party candidates meet the threshold, but its set as high as it is for a reason.

“Our purpose is really to put forth a good in depth discussion on the most important issues facing the voters of Utah and in order to do that we have to limit participation, because there’s just not enough time,” she says.

Each debate will last 56 minutes and will be aired on KUER and local TV news stations. The first one will take place on Tuesday, September 23.

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