When legislators passed Senate Bill 54 almost two years ago, a process that allows dual ballot paths for candidates — signature gathering and caucus nomination — it was a compromise designed to end a petition effort from Count My Vote that, had it passed, would have ended caucuses. Before the bill was finalized, the lieutenant governor’s office asked for a clarification on some aspects, said Mark Thomas, Utah director of elections for the lieutenant governor’s office. One of the clarifications that legislators added late was a so-called “exclusivity clause.” It fixed a one-signature-for-one-candidate rule. That means if Candidate A gets a signature from Voter A, then Candidate B cannot use Voter A’s signature for his petition. This clause has fueled even more controversy over a Utah elections law change that has already divided the state Republican Party. Its harshest critics suggest the clause could make SB54 illegal. A larger number of detractors think the Legislature needs to go back and undo the exclusivity clause.
State Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, who is assistant majority whip, said it’s likely that the Legislature will revisit SB54, and he hopes the exclusivity clause is the subject of “vigorous debate.”
“I would allow citizens to sign more than one petition,” Wilson added.
State Rep. Jeremy Peterson, R-Ogden, said that without any legislative fix, the clause will lead eventually to a lawsuit. “You’d have to have a contested race … someone with a grievance,” he said. He expects a lawsuit within the next couple of election cycles.