Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, wants to make a drastic change to how legislative vacancies are filled, taking power away from party delegates and giving it to voters. Currently, when a legislator steps down from office, their replacement is determined by a vote of party delegates from their district. Most recently, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, retired and Republican delegates in her district chose Rep. Keith Grover, R-Provo, as her replacement. Once Grover’s appointment is approved by Gov. Gary Herbert, GOP delegates in his former House district will then get to pick his replacement. Bramble argues it’s time to scrap that replacement method in favor of a special election.
Articles about voting issues in Utah.
An initiative to reform Utah’s nominating system failed to make the ballot after opponents convinced nearly 3,000 people to withdraw their name from a petition in support of the measure, election officials said Tuesday. Initiatives on medical marijuana, redistricting and Medicaid expansion did make the ballot, officials announced, making them the first to be decided by Utah voters in 14 years. Tuesday’s result is a victory for defenders of the current political system, but will also heighten questions about the ability to block initiatives from reaching voters. Republican Gov. Gary Herbert has spoken out against urging voters to withdraw names from petitions they’ve already signed and said last week the system ought to be rethought.
It’s nail-biting time for supporters and opponents of the four initiative proposals that citizens are trying to place on the 2018 November ballot. Tuesday, May 15, is the deadline for initiative opponents to turn in documents rescinding signatures. After Tuesday, the lieutenant governor’s office will total the number of signatures verified, the number of signatures rescinded, and will determine which initiatives qualify for the ballot. That likely won’t end the controversies, however. If passed, the initiatives would institutionalize Count My Vote, fully expand Medicaid, create a commission to propose political district boundaries and allow marijuana to be used for medical purposes. The rescind efforts have sparked accusations of deception and even bullying. What is going on here? Supporters and opponents of the initiative efforts are accusing the other of unfair tactics, misleading messaging, false representations, intimidating behavior and other outrageous activities. So the initiative campaigns have devolved into … resembling every political contest for the last 10,000 years of human history.
Utah: ‘We’ve been disenfranchised’: Republicans in San Juan County say redrawn voter districts unfairly favor Navajos | The Salt Lake Tribune
In this rural redrock town where buttes form the boundaries and windmills stand like a picket fence on the horizon, the largely Republican – and primarily white – residents are angry and resentful and frustrated. For more than three decades, they’ve been the dominant political party in this remote desert corner of Utah. For the first time, they’re likely to be overthrown. “I feel like we’ve been disenfranchised,” said Robert Turk, 57. It was the shared sentiment Thursday at the first GOP convention in San Juan County since a federal judge redrew the boundaries to give Navajos, who tend to affiliate as Democrats, a significant majority of voters in two of three commission districts and three of five school board seats. The decision was meant to reverse the historic political domination by whites over American Indians.
Huddled in the corner of a small room in the Salt Palace Convention Center are a group of hackers and a row of 12 voting machines. The machines, all of which were used during the 2016 election in Utah, are now strewn in pieces across a table as attendees of HackWest’s first annual cybersecurity conference pour over them, searching for vulnerabilities. And they’ve found a pretty major one. Any hacker can enter a voting booth, remove the card reader from the machine, turn off the machine, then power it back on again. Once the voting machine has turned back on, the screen will display a “no card reader” error message. All the hacker has to do from there is pop the card reader back in, and the machine will display the system setup.
Utah: Federal appeals court denies San Juan County’s request for stay in voting district case that benefited Navajos | The Salt Lake Tribune
San Juan County’s request to stay November elections of all seats on the county commission and school board in wake of a federal court’s ruling to redraw voting districts has been denied by the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Lawyers for the county filed an emergency motion on Feb. 27 in the Denver court. They objected to special elections being held this year and requested that the balloting continue under the previous redistricting plan until San Juan County’s appeal has been decided. In a Dec. 21 ruling, Judge Robert Shelby, U.S. District Court for Utah, gave Navajo voters a majority in two of three newly drawn commission districts and in three of five school board districts. Shelby had ordered that all seats be vacated and that special elections be held in November.
Utah: No Republican candidates on the Utah ballot this year? It’s a possibility after planned fix falters. | The Salt Lake Tribune
Imagine this year’s ballot with no Utah candidates listed as Republicans. Or, alternatively, the ballot listing only those Republicans who gathered signatures, while others who went through the GOP convention are shut out. Republicans say those scenarios are a growing possibility now that the Legislature failed to pass a bill designed to fix problems caused by a recent bylaw change adopted by the Republican State Central Committee. The fix-it bill, HB485, passed the House. It was on the Senate calendar awaiting action Thursday night when the Legislature adjourned as required at midnight — so it died. Now, “I think there’s certainly a cloud over this election,” Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, sponsor of the bill, said Friday.
Utah: Legislature enacts widespread election law changes, including Election-Day registration | The Salt Lake Tribune
The Legislature approved sweeping changes to Utah’s elections and voter registration laws that supporters say will ensure that people like Gerardo Navarro’s vote counts in November. Navarro was at state offices in Draper recently, renewing his driver license, but didn’t notice a box that asked him if he’d like to update his voter registration. Navarro’s not alone. One in three eligible voters didn’t check the box to update his or her registration in 2016, according to county clerks who spoke in favor of registering voters automatically when they interact with the Driver License Division. “A lot of people think that because they got their driver license they were registered,” said Weber County Clerk Auditor Ricky Hatch. “A lot of voters would come in, like in 2016, and say I’m registered,” try to vote, and find out they weren’t. Not only will they be more likely to be registered under HB218, which passed on Wednesday, those who were eligible and tried to vote on Election Day but weren’t registered will be able to do so in the next election.
Legislation aimed to thwart a newly passed Utah Republican Party rule threatening to expel candidates who gather signatures to get on the primary election ballot passed a House committee Monday. HB485 would ensure that candidates who have already filed for office would be allowed on the 2018 primary ballot. The measure would ensure that candidates can be on the ballot with their party affiliation, Rep. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, told the House Business and Labor Committee. “We want clarity for this election,” he said. “We want candidates who decided to gather signatures and/or go to convention to feel comfortable with their decision, maintain the status quo.” The committee endorsed the bill 9-3, sending it to the full House for consideration.
Utah: San Juan County asks courts to pause redistricting that would give more political power to Navajo voters | The Salt Lake Tribune
San Juan County officials are trying to halt a federal judge’s decision to redraw voting district boundaries that would give Navajos more political power in the county. Lawyers for the county made their case in an emergency motion filed Tuesday in the United States’ 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. They objected to special elections being held this year and requested that the elections continue under the previous redistricting plan until the appeal has been decided. In his Dec. 21 ruling, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby gave Navajo voters a majority in two of three commission districts and three of five school board districts. Shelby had ordered that all seats be vacated and that special elections be held in November.