SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort to help minimize the spread of coronavirus, Utah Democrats cease signature gathering for their candidates.
When asked why the party stopped signature gathering, Utah Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Merchant said in an interview with KSL NewsRadio, “We just have to take every single precaution we can possibly take to prevent the spread of coronavirus.”
While he doesn’t know if going door to door would increase the ability for someone to catch the virus, he feels that not having people out is an important thing.
“We don’t want to spread this illness that can be lethal to people,” he said.
He said that the Democratic party in Utah is calling on everyone regardless of party to stop signature gathering at this point.
When asked about online signature gathering Merchant said, “We need to look at creative solutions to solve some of these problems and if we are to continue down a signature-gathering path, that should be one way of doing that.”
“We’re playing a fundamentally different game than we thought we were a couple of months ago,” he said.
As Utah Democrats cease signature gathering, he has suggested candidates do it the old fashioned way by reaching out to the delegates and seeking their support at convention.
Going forward, he said he would never support any effort to move or delay an election, stating, “We had an election during the Civil War.”
Merchant also expressed his opinion that there is a way to keep an election going and still safeguard public health. One of the things they are planning to do is hold online forums with candidate interviews, candidates presenting video statements, etc.
“In some ways, that’s going to help us create a record for these candidates that is better than them rushing around one day and trying to convince as many people as they can to vote for them,” he said.
On the other hand, Utah Republicans are leaving it up to the candidates to follow the guidelines that the governor has set out.
In a statement to KSL NewsRadio, Utah Republican Party Chairman Derek Brown said, “We trust that the candidates are complying with that and they are adjusting their campaigns in a way that puts them in compliance with that.”
In the long term, the legislature needs to make the decision about moving to electronic signatures, he said.
When it comes to lowering the 28,000 signature threshold, Brown said, “As a party, we are trying to maintain a core principle which is to follow the law as it exists.”
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