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Constitutional Amendment Asserting the Rights of Political Parties Moves Forward

Brian Grimmett
File: Utah State Capitol

The Utah Senate has given preliminary approval to placing a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot that would affirm the right of political parties to establish their own election process.

Sen. Scott Jenkins is the sponsor of SJR2. It is a response to a bill passed last year that allows candidates to bypass the caucus/convention system. He says the legislation would set in stone key rights of political parties.

“Whether it be me or three of my buddies that have registered up to be one, or the Republican or the Democratic Party, the two major parties in the state, they have a right to choose how they’re going to put their people on the ballot and those rights should not be infringed upon,” he says.

Currently the Utah Republican Party is suing the state over changes made last year in the Count My Vote compromise. They claim that the state can’t tell the party how to elect its members. But, during debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Todd Weiler says that argument is a convenient one for the party.

“It seems to me that the party is arguing that you can’t tell us what to do to get on the primary ballot," he says. "And what I want this body to know is our state code has been telling the parties what they shall do to get on the primary ballot for at least 21 years.”

Even though Weiler spoke against the resolution, he voted in favor of it, but with the caveat that if this goes on the ballot in 2016, the language of Count My Vote should be on the ballot right next to it.  

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