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Utah GOP Releases Poll on SB54 Legal Challenge

Terry Gildea/KUER
Utah GOP Chairman James Evans talks to reporters about the party's poll on their legal challenge to SB54.


The Utah Republican Party released a poll over the weekend that shows a majority of voters favor a legal challenge to SB54. That’s the bill approved by the legislature and signed into law last year that will modify the state’s system for nominating political candidates. 

Utah GOP Chairman James Evans called a special Sunday night news conference to release the data from a poll conducted by the Republican party. In November, the party filed a lawsuit against the state of Utah challenging the legality of the compromise crafted by legislators and supporters of the Count My Vote initiative. Evans says the poll data reflects support among voters for the party’s legal challenge of Senate Bill 54.

"Fifty-nine percent of Utahns support the challenge, and  sixty-seven percent of Republicans support the challenge,” said Evans.

Senate Bill 54 allows the current caucus convention system to remain intact while also  allowing candidates to bypass that system and get on a primary ballot if they get the required number of petition signatures. Those changes became law at the beginning of this year. Republican Senator Scott Jenkins has already filed legislation that would strip SB-54 of the provisions that allow candidates to bypass the caucus convention system. He says the state doesn’t have the right to tell the Utah GOP how to nominate its candidates.

“The Republican Party is a private corporation and SB 54 basically says that anyone can come in to the organization and they don’t even need to be a member of it or have any ownership and they get to vote and control the way it goes. And that’s not the way the party operates,” says Jenkins.

Rich McKeown is the executive co-chair of Count My Vote. He says the original intention of the initiative was to increase voter participation by doing away with the caucus convention system entirely and going to a direct primary election. But McKeown supports the SB 54 compromise. He says the state party officials challenging SB54 are out of touch with voters.

“There is an extreme amount of energy by a very small group of people who are attempting I think, to keep all regular Utahns from participating in this process,” says McKeown.

GOP Chairman James Evans told reporters that a polling firm helped the party construct their poll free of charge.  

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