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Ballot Initiative Litigation Could Spur Rule Changes Next Session

Julia Ritchey
Boxes filled with signature packets from citizen-led ballot measures sit in the Utah Lieutenant Governor's office.

The state is facing lawsuits from backers of two citizen-led ballot measures that failed to qualify for the November election, litigation that could prompt lawmakers to make changes to how referendums are conducted.  

Supporters of Count My Vote will have a court hearing as early as next week on whether the Lieutenant Governor's office violated the constitution when it carried out the rules for voter-led referendums.

Count My Vote, which would have cemented a 2014 election law creating dual candidate pathways to the ballot, had collected enough signatures to qualify before opponents organized a campaign to remove voter signatures, killing the measure.

Now organizers of Count My Vote are suing, alongside their opponents from a counter-initiative called Keep My Voice. Both sides allege they’re not playing by the same set of rules when it comes to collecting and removing voter signatures.

State lawmakers received a briefing on the two suits during a committee hearing Wednesday at the Capitol. Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo, said lawmakers should address the issue next session.  

“It seems to me a move in the direction of parity would make sense — that the difficulty of getting your name on a petition or the difficulty of getting your name off a petition should be about the same,” he said.

Thurston said he may look into opening a committee bill file during their next meeting later this summer.


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