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Lawmakers Get Involved After Controversial Utah GOP Rule Change

Austen Diamond / KUER

Utah lawmakers may take legislative action after the Utah Republican Party passed a controversial bylaw over the weekend.

In a statement Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who oversees state elections, said lawmakers are “working on potential legislation to help provide clarity and ensure a fair election. While it may be difficult this late in the session to pass such legislation, my office will work with legislators as necessary.”

Cox, a Republican, said it is his responsibility “to ensure a fair, orderly and smooth election process and to enforce laws related to elections.” He said the Utah GOP’s rule change “puts every Republican candidate at risk, as a judge could revoke the party's Qualified Political Party status.”

Last weekend hardliners in the Utah GOP’s State Central Committee passed a rule targeting candidates who gather signatures to appear on the primary ballot. The rule would only apply to candidates in Utah’s 1st and 2nd Congressional District races. Currently, there are no Republicans seeking signatures in those races.  

Republican opponents of the move, including party chairman Rob Anderson, said some members of the party want to trigger a lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the Utah Democratic Party called on Cox to “rescind the URP’s eligibility as a qualified political party.”

“Cox cannot pick and choose which laws he enforces,” said spokesman Alex Cragun.

While it’s unclear whether Cox actually has the power to do that, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo said he is working to fix the loophole.

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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