Don’t be surprised if a petitioner knocks on your door in the coming weeks and months — almost 60 candidates have begun the new process to gather signatures to be on the 2016 primary election ballot. Here’s what you need to know about the new election law. SB54, passed in 2014, modified Utah’s primary process and changed how candidates are nominated and political parties are classified. Political parties have to choose which primary election process to follow by either gathering signatures, participating in a party convention or both. Mark Thomas, director of elections with Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox’s office, said this process is designed to get more Utahns involved in the voting process. “Time will tell whether this will be something that will hopefully get voters to be more civic-minded, to participate more in elections,” Thomas said.
The lieutenant governor’s office wants Utahns to be prepared to see circulators out gathering signatures, either at their home or stores. “I think it is going to be great to have voters part of that process, but I do think that they need to be kind of aware and look at what they’re signing and think through that a little bit to ensure that, “Hey this is what I want to do, and I haven’t signed for this office or candidate before,” he said.
There are some restrictions when it comes to signing petitions that Utah voters should be aware of: residents can only sign one petition per candidate and can only sign one petition per office. Also, some petitions may be restricted to party members only. Thomas notes that some Utahns may be frustrated that they can only help one candidate per race get on the ballot but hopes that this first run of elections will help work out any kinks in the process.