Utah GOP changes course, votes to continue appeal of ‘Count My Vote’ bill

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Republican Party has voted to continue their appeal of Utah State Senate Bill 54, the so-called “Count My Vote” compromise bill, just three weeks after voting to end the legal challenge.

The vote was the result of a special meeting of the State Central Committee Saturday.

“At the February 4, 2017 meeting, the committee voted to end the legal challenge and in the interim found there was a pathway to finish the final stages of the federal appeal without any additional cost to the party,” Saturday’s press release stated.

Prior to the vote to continue the appeal, Utah Republican Party Chair James Evans asked that three conditions be placed on the vote to continue the lawsuit. The first is that there be no further costs incurred to the Utah Republican Party.

The second is that, “we communicate clearly that the desire to complete the final stage of the federal appeal is for the purpose of receiving an answer from the 10th Circuit and not meant to be adversarial,” according to the press release.

The third is that the state party reaffirms its support and appreciation of Gov. Gary Herbert and the Utah State Legislature for their efforts to preserve the caucus and convention system.

SB 54 provides a path for political candidates to get onto the ballot through signature gathering rather than through the caucus and convention system.

The appeal is regarding a ruling in District Court that went against the Utah GOP. The 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 “Count 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.