The Utah Supreme Court has denied a citizen-led group’s request to place its election law initiative on the November ballot.
The group Count My Vote was running an initiative to tweak Utah election law and cement a dual-pathway system which allows candidates to appear on the primary ballot by going through their party’s convention, gathering enough signatures, or both.
The group turned in nearly 135,000 signatures to get its initiative on the November ballot – more than the required 113,00 signatures. But in the 30-day window between Count My Vote turning in its signatures and the Lieutenant Governor’s office certification, opponents of the measure led a successful campaign to convince thousands of people to remove their signatures.
“We are disappointed by the ruling, but S.B. 54 is still the law in Utah,” said Count My Vote spokesman Taylor Morgan. “The good news is that Utah voters strongly support the dual path to the ballot. County My vote will continue to work to defend the dual path process.”
Count My Vote filed an emergency legal challenge and argued before the Utah Supreme Court earlier this month that the 30-day loophole unconstitutionally gives opposition groups an unfair advantage.
Count My Vote’s executive co-chair Rich McKeown hopes lawmakers will change the 30-day signature removal window, which nearly led to the downfall of Utah’s medical marijuana initiative, too.
“I believe that it is now next to impossible to get an initiative on the ballot if there’s going to be well-organized and well-funded opposition,” he said.
Opponents organized as the group Keep My Voice say Count My Vote is trying to weaken Utah’s caucus-convention system for choosing political candidates.
Keep My Voice founder Dave Bateman welcomed the ruling.
“We applaud the court for upholding state law that allows voters to learn both sides of an issue, come to an educated decision, and remove their name from a petition,” he said.
Bateman, a Utah tech entrepreneur, has largely bankrolled the conservative group’s efforts and funded the Utah GOP’s yearslong lawsuit to overturn S.B. 54.