Ahead of a final deadline on Thursday, state flag referendum falls short

Apr 13, 2023, 11:15 AM | Updated: 11:28 am

state flag...

Sen. Daniel McCay, R-Riverton, sponsor of SB31, State Flag Amendments, poses for a photo with the new Utah state flag at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, March 2, 2023. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The deadline for residents to sign a referendum opposing the new Utah state flag was 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 12. And by that time, the referendum had fallen short of the 130,000 signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot.

There is still time, however, as the deadline for clerks to submit signatures is today, April 13. 

According to Vote Utah, by the time the signature-gathering deadline had passed on Wednesday, the referendum had received just over 14,000 signatures. 

The group Referendum to Save Utah’s Flag opposes S.B. 31 and filed a referendum not long after the end of the 2023 Utah Legislative Session. Because S.B. 31 passed the Utah Senate 19-9, and the Utah House 40-35, it was eligible for a public referendum that would place the issue in the hands of Utah voters.

Chad Saunders, one of the referendum’s 8 sponsors, said the signatures garnered by the Wednesday deadline aren’t strictly accurate. He said they have at least two-thirds of the signatures required. It will be some time before the final count of votes on the referendum.

If there are no changes, the new flag will be official in March 2024. At that time, the original design will become Utah’s historical flag.

A poll conducted by the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics in early April 2023 found that more Utahns supported the new flag than opposed it (48% to 35%, respectively).

Regardless of the outcome, Saunders said hopes this referendum will set a precedent for Utah legislators to listen to Utahns before making a decision like this.

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Ahead of a final deadline on Thursday, state flag referendum falls short