Utah GOP votes to end federal appeal of ‘Count My Vote’ compromise law

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah GOP State Central Committee voted Saturday to end the party’s federal appeal of Senate Bill 54, which provides a path for political candidates to get onto a ballot through signature gathering rather than the caucus and convention system.

Utah GOP Chairman James Evans released a statement Saturday announcing the vote to end the appeal, which was the latest step in a lengthy battle over the issue.

“Today the Utah Republican Party State Central Committee voted to end its federal appeal of Utah State Senate Bill 54. The lower courts’ rulings have essentially given us a road map for changing our governing documents to ensure we continue effectively working with our Republican Party candidates and, in effect, minimize the impact of S.B. 54. Our State Central Committee recognizes these new opportunities and has already begun the work to ensure the Utah Republican Party and its County Parties continue to produce principled Republican candidates.”

The Utah GOP was appealing to the 10th Circuit Court regarding a ruling in District Court that went against them. The Utah Republican Party had argued that the signature gathering route was unconstitutional because it imposed “onerous” requirements on the political party.

SB54 has been called a compromise bill, as it was passed in response to the “County My Vote” initiative that sought to eliminate the caucus/convention system Utah’s political parties use to select candidates. Under SB54, candidates can get on a ballot by gathering a certain number of signatures, by going through the convention process, or by doing both.

The dispute has also drawn the attention of the Utah Democrats in the past, as last year the party asked a federal court to strip the Utah GOP of its “qualified party status” when the GOP stated their intent not to comply with a Utah Supreme Court ruling relating to candidates who gather signatures.