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Election news from across Utah's statewide and national races in 2020.

Utah State Senate Hopeful Wants List Of Write-in Candidates To Be Included In Mail-in Ballots

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Elaine Clark
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KUER
After losing in April’s Utah GOP Convention, Marci Green Campbell is staging a write-in campaign for Utah Senate. She has requested the names of write-in candidates be available to voters with their ballots to make up for canceling this year’s caucus night.

Marci Green Campbell lost to incumbent Utah State Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, during April’s GOP convention.

Now, she’s running against him as a write-in candidate.

Green Campbell said she was disadvantaged by this year’s caucus-convention system because delegates from 2018 were reused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Citizens were not able to go and vote on a delegate, someone that represented the issues of 2020,” she said.

One of the issues she noted was tax reform. After the Utah Legislature passed a controversial tax reform package in 2019, Green Campbell helped organize a citizen referendum to overturn it. Ultimately, the initiative garnered so much support that the legislature repealed the new tax law themselves during the 2020 general session.

“Here we have a year in 2020, where thousands across the state were very engaged in the process because of the tax reform bill, and they were not able to either run to be a delegate or vote on someone to be a delegate,” she said. “So really, that most basic voting right was interrupted because of COVID.”

So as a way to remedy not having a caucus, Green Campbell and Tina Cannon, a candidate for Utah’s 1st Congressional District who also lost at the Republican convention, recently asked state election officials to include a list of write-in candidates with mail-in ballots.

But Justin Lee, Utah’s elections director, said that would cost county clerks a total of $150,000 — and it’s not required by law.

“Because [write-in candidates] come late in the game, there’s some issues they need to overcome, some hurdles,” Lee said. “That includes not having their name on the ballot.”

Quin Monson, a political scientist from Brigham Young University, said even if they did provide the names, odds are a write-in candidate wouldn’t win.

“Unless there’s evidence that [candidates] are going to spend tens of thousands of dollars to pursue this, it’s not going to go anywhere,” Monson said.

In general, Monson said it takes money and name recognition or an unpopular incumbent for a write-in campaign to be successful. He said there’s no indication that’s the case with Weiler, who has held his seat since 2012.

“He’s a Republican in a Republican district who's been successful,” Monson said. “There’s no evidence, that I’m aware of, that he’s out of step or unpopular with his constituents. I wouldn’t expect him to have any trouble fending off a write-in campaign.”

Green Campbell is one of 41 write-in candidates who have qualified for Utah’s general election.

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