The Senate gave preliminary approval Monday to a constitutional amendment that could overturn a new law to change how parties choose their nominees. The Senate voted 17-12 to send SJR2 to a final vote later this week — but that was three votes short of the two-thirds majority (20 of 29 members) that it would need eventually to pass and be sent to the House, and perhaps eventually to voters for a decision. Its sponsor, Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said the amendment would ask voters “the question: should a party’s rights be infringed upon.” He said the amendment says “parties should be able to decide under their own terms and circumstances how their candidate goes to a ballot.”
Last year, legislators passed SB54 as a compromise with supporters of the Count My Vote ballot initiative to allow candidates to qualify for a primary in two different ways.
They now may qualify by collecting enough signatures, similar to a direct primary sought by Count My Vote. Or they can qualify through the traditional caucus-convention system, which parties favor. The Utah Republican Party has challenged the new law in court, saying it infringes on its rights, and the Constitution Party signed onto the lawsuit Monday.