The boundaries of election districts in a southeastern Utah county are unconstitutional and violate the rights of American Indians who make up roughly half the county’s population, a federal judge has ruled for the second time. San Juan County, a roughly 7,800-square-mile county that touches Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona, was ordered last year to redraw its county commission and school board election districts after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ruled that they were unconstitutional. Last week, Shelby ruled that the county’s new maps are still unconstitutional and primarily drawn on race.
Articles about voting issues in Utah.
When former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz resigned on June 30, he sent state officials scrambling to organize Utah’s first congressional special election in 87 years. Now, counties must cough up hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexpected costs to pay for it. As counties gear up for the Aug. 15 GOP primary, they’re estimating it will cost more than $675,000 to host the special election, particularly in areas that otherwise wouldn’t be holding municipal primaries. … With more than 60 percent of 3rd District voters, Utah County will eat the majority of the cost — which Utah County Clerk/Auditor Bryan Thompson says will be paid for out of the county’s “rainy day” fund.
Utah residents might have the chance to vote to form an independent redistricting commission that would redraw congressional and legislative district boundaries after the 2020 Census. A group called Utahns for Responsive Government is working to collect the more than 100,000 signatures required to put the initiative on the state’s 2018 ballot. “I strongly believe that the redistricting process (the determination of political boundaries), badly needs to be improved, and that politicians should not be choosing their voters,” said Ralph Becker, a former Salt Lake City mayor who is a member of the group.
Utah: Ballot initiative forming to create independent commission to redraw political districts | The Salt Lake Tribune
Yet another voter initiative may be headed for the Utah ballot next year. While petition drives already are underway to ask voters to raise taxes for schools or allow medical marijuana use, another now is forming to create an independent redistricting commission. It would handle redrawing congressional and legislative district boundaries after the 2020 Census — in the wake of allegations that gerrymandering by the Legislature last time gave Utah Republicans unfair advantages. The new drive is called the “Better Boundaries” initiative. A new political issues committee, Utahns for Responsive Government, has formed to push it and it expects to file papers within a few weeks to start collecting the required 113,143 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Utah: Lawmakers put brakes on action against governor over special election — for now | Deseret News
Lawmakers put the brakes on taking action Wednesday in their ongoing dispute with Gov. Gary Herbert over the special election process to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “We could give you a bunch of different options today, but I think it’s more important we give you a plan,” House Majority Whip Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, told the House GOP caucus, promising they’ll see something “relatively soon.” Even an attempt by Rep. Keven Stratton, R-Orem, to have the caucus vote to encourage Chaffetz to rescind his intent to resign on June 30 was shot down by Gibson, who conducted the caucus.
Utah: Hughes says no lawsuit over special election flap likely, but legislature will make changes in 2018 | UtahPolicy
House Speaker Greg Hughes says he doesn’t expect lawmakers to sue Governor Gary Herbert over the special election to replace Rep. Jason Chaffetz, but he does think the governor overstepped his bounds. Lawmakers had talked about a lawsuit after Gov. Herbert refused to call the legislature into session to set the procedure to fill Chaffetz’s seat. Instead, Herbert set up the process to choose a replacement once he steps down on June 30. I warned my colleagues that during our conversations with the governor that if we could not work this out in a reasonable way, this is a battle we could not win,” said Hughes. “I warned my colleagues that this is one of the problems with not being able to call ourselves into a special session like 35 other states.”
Just one day after Rep. Jason Chaffetz announced his date of departure from Congress, state officials released an expedited timeline to fill his soon-to-be-vacated 3rd Congressional District seat. Filing started Friday afternoon — and remains open for one week — with many candidates having already announced their bids in a mad scramble to join the race. The field will be set by June 30, the day Chaffetz steps down. A special election is scheduled for Nov. 7, aligning with voting for municipal offices. If needed — and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said it is “very likely” — a primary will be held on Aug. 15. The deadlines, Cox said, are meant to “mirror as closely as possible” the standard process. “This is an election,” he said. “It’s not an appointment.”
Utah: Legislators lobbing threats at Herbert in the fight over a special election to replace Chaffetz | UtahPolicy
Within the bounds of Utah Republican congenial politics, what’s happening now on Capitol Hill between GOP Gov. Gary Herbert and Republicans lawmakers is about as bad as it’s been in recent years. Wednesday, members of the House GOP caucus basically threatened to sue Herbert before the state Supreme Court over whether he will call them into a special session to decide how a replacement for U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz will be picked. Meanwhile, House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, told an open caucus meeting that Chaffetz’s resignation could come as soon as next week, but surely before the end of June.
The conflict between Utah’s governor and state Legislature escalated Thursday after Rep. Jason Chaffetz officially announced his plans to leave Congress, with legislative leadership threatening legal action over how the vacancy is filled. Gov. Gary Herbert has said he will not call a special session of the Legislature for state lawmakers to set the process for replacing Chaffetz, R-Utah, when he steps down June 30. In response, Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, R-Sandy, issued a statement warning Herbert that “the path forward with the least amount of legal risk would be for the governor to call a special session to allow lawmakers to add appropriate election language to the state code.”
Utah: Legislators, county clerks tussle over ‘ranked-choice voting’ proposal | The Salt Lake Tribune
Legislators and county clerks wrestled Wednesday over whether to pursue “ranked-choice voting,” sometimes called instant runoff voting, to help ensure that election winners are actually supported by a majority of voters. In such a system, voters rank their first, second, third, etc. choices. If no one achieves a majority initially, the lowest-vote-receiving candidate would be eliminated. Supporters of that eliminated candidate would have votes shifted to their second choice. The process would repeat until someone wins a majority. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, has for years pushed bills to allow this type of voting. Legislation on the topic passed the House this year, but it died in the Senate after the Utah Republican Party endorsed the idea to help resolve worries that multi-candidate primaries could lead to winners who achieve small pluralities.