Utah’s 2016 Primary elections will be different than they’ve been in the past, and the Lt. Governor’s office is beginning their campaign to tell parties, voters, and candidates what they need to know.
Changes made to Utah’s election laws by a bill known as SB54 have created a new landscape for how candidates receive their party’s nomination. In 2016, parties can choose to become either a registered political party or a qualified political party. All have chosen, or have announced they will choose to become a qualified political party. That means candidates will have the choice of being able to gather signatures or to go through the normal party convention process to get on the party’s primary ballot.
Mark Thomas is the director of elections in the Lt. Governor’s office. He says they’ve been preparing for the changes for months, but that the biggest thing now is making sure everyone outside their office knows what the changes are.
“We are going to be doing quite a bit of trainings," he says. "We’re going to be putting some YouTube videos, some internet information as well, that I think people will be able to take just a few minutes to understand it better than what they had before.”
He says one of his biggest concerns is the potential impact of the lawsuit brought by the Utah Republican Party opposing the election law changes.
“There is pending litigation that may result in some or none of the legislation to be ruled unconstitutional. We just don’t know," he says. "We’ve asked the judge to quickly decide and so we hope to get something by the end of the year.”
But for now, the process moves forward. Candidates who choose to, can begin filing their intent to gather signatures form with the Lt. Governor’s office starting January 4, 2016.