SALT LAKE CITY — Passing the final vote before going to the Governor’s office for an expected signature, SB 54 is on the verge of changing politics in Utah and ending the Count My Vote movement after it spent $1 million to get an initiative on the ballot.
“You’re vote today is, ‘do I preserve a history at the same time that I grab the future?” said Rep. Dan Mckay of Riverton, the House Sponsor of the Bill.
20 members of the 75 member House voted against the measure, a substantial revolt after the House caucus endorsed the compromise.
Those opposed suggested it wasn’t much of a compromise.
“The right of a party and people to associate and decide who they brand, who they endorse for the ballot is a First Amendment right, the Supreme Court has said that over and over and over again,” said Rep. Ken Ivory, one of the bill’s opponents.
So long as Governor Gary Herbert signs the bill and it doesn’t get overturned in court, the changes will be dramatic.
Political parties will still choose delegates in caucuses and conventions. The conventions will select either two primary candidates as they currently do, but those candidates or that nominee could face candidates who pursue office through a different route.
Candidates will have the option of obtaining signatures to get on a primary ballot. The bill creates a tiered threshold delineating the number of signatures candidates must gather for offices ranging from U.S. Senate to county commissioners.
The law also mandates that political parties allow unaffiliated voters to take part in primary elections. The GOP has closed its primary elections to all but registered Republicans in recent years.