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Utah Supreme Court Decides Primary Election Case

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Republican party leaders in Millard County will have to nominate a candidate for county commission before the ballot deadline next week. The Utah Supreme Court gave election officials some new guidance on how to handle a disputed primary election.

After a hearing on Friday, the state Supreme Court upheld part of a lower court ruling that invalidated the June 21st primary election. But the state’s highest court vacated the order requiring a new election.

Instead, the court said Republican party leaders should choose their nominee based on the law used when a candidate dies or is disqualified.

Mark Thomas, who oversees elections in the lieutenant governor’s office, says at least they know what to do now.

Thomas tells KUER, “This is helpful, I think, to the county clerks, to the political parties and to our office in that we all know now what needs to happen. And, although it was an unfortunate set of circumstances that got us in this, we do have some clear direction going forward.”

Election night results showed Jim Dyer defeating incumbent commissioner James Withers by one vote. But a later tally gave Withers the victory with five votes. Dyer sued Withers to challenge the result, but Judge Claudia Laycock’s decision in the case left county and state officials unsure how to proceed and they took the case to the state Supreme Court.

The 39 members of the Millard County Republican Central Committee now plan to meet Saturday evening in Delta to choose their party’s nominee.  But party chair Peter Greathouse says that won’t necessarily decide the election.

“Both candidates have filed as write-in candidates as well," Greathouse told KUER, "so if we select one and not the other, the other will probably proceed as a write-in candidate.”

Party leaders also have the option of choosing a candidate who wasn’t in the primary, or no one at all.

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