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Politics & Government

Special Legislative Session to Address Election Law Likely

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Brian Grimmett
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The conflict over Utah’s new election law continues to rage, even after a federal judge ruled that most of the law is constitutional. The next step in the fight is likely a special legislative session.

After a federal judge struck down a provision of SB54 that required parties to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections, Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans declared victory. He also declared that the GOP is interpreting SB54 in a way that allows them to force candidates to use the caucus convention system and prevent them from getting on a primary ballot by gathering signatures.

“Keep in mind we didn’t write the law; we’re just following it," he said. "So, I would refer you back to the legislature.”

But the legislators that helped write and pass the bill disagree entirely. Republican Sen. Curt Bramble told me that the GOP ought to read the law again. And Republican Senator Todd Weiler says he doesn’t know anybody other than Evans who has the same interpretation.

“He’s focusing on one or two words and kind of stretching it into the exact opposite of what it’s intended to mean.”

A spokesperson for Governor Herbert says while he isn’t pushing for a special session, he’s open to have a conversation about it with legislative leaders. If Herbert were to call a special session, legislators would likely try to lower the current signature thresholds, move the date candidates can declare candidacy to January, and clarify the laws intent to allow candidates to be able to choose either method for getting on a primary ballot. 

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