Dozens of candidates are expected to begin gathering signatures to get on the ballot in 2016 under a new election law, but a handful will face a steep, almost insurmountable climb in their bid for office. The way the new law is written, combined with a judge’s ruling and Republican Party rules, will mean some incumbents would have to get signatures from 1 of every 3 GOP voters in their districts. It is a daunting task that has some questioning the fairness of the new law and may ultimately result in a lawsuit. Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans blames Count My Vote — the group of prominent Utah politicos who pushed for changes to open up the elections process — for forcing through changes for the 2016 election.
“This whole creation by Count My Vote is just unfortunate, because they insisted on a 2016 mandate that would not allow enough time to work through all the unforeseen consequences,” Evans said. “I believe the Legislature had to negotiate with a gun to its head, which is never a good thing.”
Rich McKeown, the vice chairman of Count My Vote, said his group wanted candidates to gather signatures from a percentage of voters — 2 percent of those registered — and that would be a better way. If the threshold set by the Legislature needs to be changed, he said, that tweak could be considered.
Overall, the changes in SB54 were intended to open up the process to more people, and it’s the GOP, McKeown said, that has fought that.