Bad bill SB123 from Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) bans signature-gathering candidates from running in a special election to replace a member of Congress who leaves their seat before their term is up, contradicting current state law. This eliminates the ability for voters have more say in choosing primary candidates and gives all the power to delegates to select those candidates for high offices through a convention process only in these special cases.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the right for candidates in Utah to gather signatures as a second path to qualify for primary elections, giving Utah voters increased choice and say in the elections process. Nevertheless, SB 123 passed during the 2019 Legislative Session. Governor Herbert, who has continuously vowed to protect the signature-gathering path, has vetoed it.
Now legislators are considering whether to hold a veto-override session to pass this bad bill once and for all. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Ask your Utah State senator and House rep to protect the signature-gathering route for candidates in all elections and NOT override the Governor’s veto on SB 123! The dual-path system increases voter choice and participation in our elections, two necessary ingredients of a healthy democracy.
The issue with SB 123 comes down to 2014’s law enacted by SB54, which provides a second path to the primary ballot by petition in addition to the tradition caucus-convention pathway to offer voters more of a say in the elections process. Why? Because in districts where one party holds a strong majority, primary candidates in that party are almost certain to win the general election — meaning that a small handful of delegates are selecting the elected official in many districts in Utah. The petition route gives more choice to voters.
Despite multiple lawsuits and repeal attempts, the dual-path created by SB 54 continues to hold firm, backed by the recent Supreme Court decision not to hear an appeal by SB 54 opponents.
The majority voice in Utah also confirms the need for the dual-path system. Indeed, in the only special election in recent Utah history — 2017’s Special Election for Congressional District 3 to replace Jason Chaffetz — it was moderate petition candidate, John Curtis, who won the general election by a landslide, not the ultra-conservative delegate-chosen candidate, Chris Herrod.
According to Utah Policy, the primary reason Herbert vetoed the bill is that it “significantly limits participation and choice” in elections for replacements in Congress and that the dual-path system, both signatures and convention, is “working well for both candidates and voters.”