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Ready, Set, Run: Special Election For Chaffetz Seat Set For Nov. 7

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and elections director Mark Thomas go over the timeline for the upcoming special election to fill the 3rd district's soon-to-be-vacant seat.

State election officials have announced that the special election to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Jason Chaffetz will take place November 7, the same day as municipal elections.

Utahns interested in running for the 3rd Congressional District seat have from now until May 26 to declare their candidacy with the Lieutenant Governor’s office.

After that, the candidate field will be set by June 30, the day Chaffetz is set to leave office. If enough people decide to run, which appears likely, a primary will be held August 15, also the same as municipal primary date.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and elections director Mark Thomas outlined the timeline during a press conference Friday. Thomas says piggybacking the special election onto municipal ballots will be the fastest way to fill the seat.

“In this case, trying to match it up with the municipal election not only makes it easy and consistent for voters, but it allows [us] the ability to have some cost savings.”

State statute is vague on the actual details of a special election, other than requiring the governor to issue a proclamation for one.

Leaders of the Utah Legislature have loudly objected to the governor proceeding with a special election without first convening lawmakers for their input.

Asked whether the threat of possible litigation from the legislature would taint the process, Cox said no.

“In this job, we get sued a lot, it turns out,” he said. “We understand those threats of litigation are out there, again our job is to run an election.”  

Cox says they want to ensure elections are free and fair and open for all voters of the 3rd district — which stretches from Salt Lake to Provo and all the way to San Juan County in the southeastern corner of the state.

Cox says for those wishing to bypass the caucus convention process to get onto the ballot have the option of gathering 7,000 signatures, but have less than a month to do so. That deadline is June 12.

For voters, the deadline to register online or in person is August 8. The Lieutenant Governor’s office has more information on the special election at

Special Election Timeline

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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