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Senate Considers Bill To Establish Runoff Elections In Utah

Lee Hale

A bill moving through Utah’s Senate may put to rest some controversy surrounding how political candidates get on the ballot. 

A previous bill (SB54) passed in 2014 guaranteed that any candidate with enough signatures could get on a ballot. But Utah’s Republican Party hasn’t been happy with it.

They argued that it took power away from the party nomination process. And even took it to federal court. They lost.

“It’s the people’s ballot not the political party’s ballot," says Republican Senator Curtis Bramble who sponsored SB54.

While Bramble wants to make certain that ballots are not under the control of political parties he’s also introduced a new bill (SB114) that might resolve his own party’s concerns.

“This bill is really meant to be a safety valve in the event that you have a number of candidates in a high profile race and the public doesn’t have a clear choice," says Bramble.

SB114 would create a runoff election in the event that no candidate gets more than 35 percent of the vote. Which Bramble says is unlikely but possible.

It also moves the candidate filing period from March to the first week in January.

The bill has received unanimous support thus far and will now continue to a final vote in the Senate. 

Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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