The Utah Supreme Court ruled against the Utah Republican Party on Friday, mandating that candidates — not the party — can choose how to access the primary election ballot. The ruling comes during an ongoing battle over Utah’s new election law, SB54, which gives candidates the option to collect signed petitions, go through the state’s longstanding caucus and convention system, or both to secure a spot in the primary election. The GOP argued that the statute allows the decision to rest with the party, which should be able to preclude a member from gathering signatures. It’s an attempt — with the party’s conventions taking place this month — to recognize only those candidates who go through the party’s conventions. But the state has contended that SB54 allows the candidate to choose his or her own pathway to the ballot.
The court rejected the Republican Party’s assertion, saying “there is no ambiguity” in SB54’s language, and that the GOP’s argument “simply ignores the structure” of the statute’s language, according to the ruling.
Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon called Friday’s ruling the “knockout punch” to the GOP’s gripe with SB54, saying there’s nothing “substantive left” for Republicans to argue.