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Ballot initiatives face key deadline Monday

SALT LAKE CITY — For months, they’ve been outside stores and libraries and showing up for public events, soliciting signatures for ballot initiatives in Utah.

The deadline to turn in signatures for those ballot measures to the state elections office is 5 p.m. Monday.  Initiative backers must get 113,000 signatures, but they must equal 10 percent of the vote in the last presidential election from 26 of the 29 state senate districts.
“It sounds like we are going to be on the ballot,” said Christine Stenquist, an advocate for medicinal cannabis in Utah. “It has been an emotional morning.”
The governor and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have both recently voiced concerns with that effort.
“Our bill is the most conservative language of all such initiatives across the country,” countered Stenquist on KSL Newsradio’s “The Doug Wright Show.”
Another effort getting a lot of attention is the Count My Vote group.
“This is giving everyone the solution they seek, and that is to have two ways to get on the ballot,” said Rich McKeown, executive chairman of Count My Vote.
“By the end of the day, we should turn in somewhere around the neighborhood of 175,000 total signatures,” he said Monday.
Jeff Wright, the co-chairman of Better Boundaries, said volunteers have gathered 190,000 signatures. The initiative calls for an independent commission to redraw voting boundaries, not the Utah Legislature.
“That’s Democrats, Republicans and independents, and they are sending a message saying we want to pick our politicians, not to have our politicians pick us,” Wright said.
The fourth ballot initiative is an effort to expand Medicaid in Utah, and backers of that measure too believe they are going to qualify.
“I was at Wal-Mart in Kearns gathering signatures, and a lady’s husband was a veteran and had a stroke and he is uninsured. He is one of many Utahns who would benefit from this,” said organizer Rylee Curtis.
 It’s now up to the lieutenant governor’s office to verify all those signatures. A decision on whether the measures have qualified for the ballot is expected in mid-May.