ALL NEWS

Senate bill that undoes part of a signature-gathering compromise could soon pass

Feb 26, 2021, 2:40 PM
signature gathering...
(Utah State Capitol. Credit: Paul Nelson, file.)
(Utah State Capitol. Credit: Paul Nelson, file.)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill before the legislature that would counteract some of a years-old compromise that gives candidates a choice between signature-gathering or the caucus-convention system to put themselves on a ballot could soon pass the Utah Senate.

Lawmakers struck down SB205 Thursday evening, then revived the legislation less than an hour later — advancing it to its next reading.

Now, it seems Senate lawmakers are likely to pass the bill, which would undo parts of the so-called “Count My Vote” compromise affecting how Utah candidates get on the ballot.

A level playing field? 

Republican leaders say it would virtually level the playing field between incumbents and lesser-known candidates by eliminating signature gathering in favor of conventions. But those who backed the Count My Vote initiative, which sought to overhaul the primary process in Utah, and others say the current system is more inclusive.

The bill’s sponsor argued signature gathering favors those with deep pockets on the campaign trail.

“We have seen a greater number of incumbent protection,” said Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, on the Senate floor Thursday. “We forced candidates of lesser means, not incumbents, into the convention system and those with significant financial resources were able to avoid the convention system.”

McCay co-sponsored SB54, the 2014 bill that eventually led to the Count My Vote compromise, through which candidates can choose either signature gathering or the caucus-convention system to get their names on the ballot

How it works now

Under current statute, Utah law allows political parties to nominate candidates through one of several ways. If a party uses the traditional caucus and convention method — selecting candidates through a voting system — they must also allow candidates the opportunity to get their name on the ballot through signature-gathering.

However, there’s currently no option for a convention-only process. McCay wants to change that, citing disparities between well-known incumbents who coast through convention votes compared to first-time candidates who must increase campaign spending to get their name on the primary ballot.

The United Utah Party put out a statement earlier announcing its opposition to McCay’s SB205. 

“Despite the fact that Utah voters overwhelmingly favor the current, more inclusive system, the Republican majority in the legislature has long opposed reforms that give Utah voters choices beyond what the GOP party leadership is willing to sanction,” the party said in the statement. “It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Republican legislators have once again chosen to put their own partisan interests ahead of those of the people they were elected to represent.” 

The United Utah Party was co-founded by Jim Bennett, whose father, the late Sen. Bob Bennett, was famously ousted from his Senate position at the state GOP convention by then-newcomer Mike Lee. 

Conventions vs. signature gathering

McCay argues candidates spend much more money to gather signatures, but don’t see good results. According to him, 99.3% of the candidates on the general election ballot in the last six years qualified for the ballot through the convention system. 

His bill would create four categories of political parties. Each offers multiple paths for a candidate to win his or her party’s nomination. Under the convention-only process, convention delegates narrow a party’s pool of candidates to two nominees who will advance to the primary election — unless one candidate receives at least two-third of the vote, in which case they advance straight to the general election.

The Count My Vote compromise established signature gathering as an alternative means for candidates to reach their party primary without going through the convention. Opponents say McCay’s bill ultimately undoes that option. 

As of Friday afternoon, McCay’s bill is set to be circled back in the Utah Senate where it’s expected to pass.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

One person is dead following a three vehicle crash in Sanpete County around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Ja...
Waverly Golden

Three vehicle crash in Sanpete County leaves one dead

One person is dead following a three vehicle crash in Sanpete County around 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 28.
20 hours ago
Tyre Nichols Protests...
Nouran Salahieh, Jamiel Lynch, Chuck Johnston, Shawn Nottingham, Andy Rose and Phil Gast, CNN

More protests today after release of video depicting the deadly police beating of Tyre Nichols

Protesters across the US heldmarches & rallies on Saturday, one day after the release of video showing the police beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis.
20 hours ago
Gov. Spencer Cox covered a broad range of issues Thursday night at the State of the State Address. ...
Chandler Holt

Governor Spencer Cox signs transgender bill, releases statement

Gov. Spencer Cox released a statement on the transgender bill, that would ban transgender-related surgeries and puberty blockers for minors, on Saturday.
20 hours ago
Temperatures dropping weather worsens...
Allison Chinchar, CNN Meteorologist

‘Dangerous’ arctic air returns this weekend after a month-long hiatus

What has been a mild start to 2023 will come to a halt this weekend as winter makes a roaring comeback across the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
20 hours ago
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, talks about SB117, which he is sponsoring, during a Senate Judicia...
Devin Oldroyd

Two Republicans voted against bill banning transgender-related surgery, here’s why

The Utah Senate has approved a bill banning transgender-related surgery and puberty blockers for minors. A total of two Republicans voted against it.
2 days ago
Rabbi Avremi Zippel talks to the crowd during halftime of a Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers game at Viv...
Mark Jones

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Area rabbi shares his thoughts

Rabbi Avremi Zippel joined Inside Sources Friday to discuss International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Senate bill that undoes part of a signature-gathering compromise could soon pass