A law that was intended to expand voter participation in primary elections may have just the opposite effect. Elections officials told Democratic representatives that a recent ruling by a federal judge may mean that unaffiliated voters — those who are not registered with any political party — may no longer be able to cast ballots in Democratic primaries, which have traditionally been open to unaffiliated voters. There are roughly 616,000 unaffiliated voters in the state — making that the second biggest category, next to registered Republicans. The decision may also limit who can sign a candidate’s petition to get on the primary ballot because the law says that the signatures have to come from those eligible to vote in the party primary. If unaffiliated voters can’t vote in the primary, they can’t sign the petitions, either.
U.S. District Judge David Nuffer sided with the Utah Republican Party that the party should be able to choose to close its primaries, striking a provision of a recently passed election overhaul that would have forced the party to let any registered voter cast a ballot.
But in the process, it appears Nuffer may have also struck a provision that lets a party allow unaffiliated voters to participate if the party chooses, meaning the roughly 616,000 voters who don’t align with a party could not vote in a primary election.