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Utahns overwhelmingly voting to pass Amendment C, take slavery out of state constitution

Election specialist Andrew Haun processes ballots at the Utah County Clerk/Auditor’s Office in Provo on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY – Representative Sandra Hollins (D-Salt Lake City), Utah’s only Black state legislator, was shocked in 2018 to learn slavery was in the state constitution.  That’s why Hollins backed Amendment C to remove the provision from the constitution, which gained bipartisan support. 

In 2020, it’s likely Utah voters will approve Amendment C to do just that. Currently, it is winning with over 80% of the vote

Like the 13th Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, Utah’s state constitution allowed slavery as punishment for a crime. 

Although there’s no evidence anyone in Utah is being punished that way, Hollins feels it’s important to take slavery out of the state constitution just the same.  

“This language no longer reflects who we are as citizens of this state. As long as it is a part of our constitution, we have a number of people in our state who argue that they don’t feel equal,” Hollins says. 

She also thinks it will lead to legislative changes. 

“This is very symbolic of where we as a state need to be headed. We need to start having conversations about our past,” Hollins says. “And start having conversations about what the vision is and how do we start healing this divide that currently exists in our state around, particularly, racism.”   

Passing Amendment C to change the state constitution could also lead to criminal justice reform in Hollins’ opinion. 

“What it does is it begins that conversation around criminal justice reform and what that looks like in our state,” Hollins says. 

Utah on track to pass most of its amendments on the 2020 ballot