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Hughes Gears Up To Change Special Election Law Following Congressional Race

Nicole Nixon

The special election to replace former Congressman Jason Chaffetz is in the rear-view mirror. Now state lawmakers are looking ahead to making changes to the way special races are conducted in the future… should another vacancy occur.

When Jason Chaffetz announced plans to resign this summer, talks about how to replace him caused a rift between the legislature and the governor’s office. Gov. Gary Herbert called a special election, which frustrated leaders who said it was their job to lay out those plans. House Speaker Greg Hughes says he wants to clarify those rules in the upcoming Legislative session.

“We’re not going to go through that ambiguity again,” he says. “We’re going to get that all sorted out. Ironed out. We’re going to put a process in place everybody can look at and understand.”

Herbert said state law gives him the ability to "call a statewide special election for any purpose authorized by law” and designates the lieutenant governor to conduct it.

Lieutenant Gov. Spencer Cox said he and the governor never said the legislature doesn’t have the authority to pass legislation determining the time, manner and place of elections.

“We will support them making any changes that they think are necessary during the legislative session for the potential of this happening in the future. We’re not opposed to that.”

Cox said the situation is still pretty rare. Chaffetz’s departure was only the second time in state history a Congressional vacancy has happened. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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