POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah legislature eyes moving back municipal elections for special congressional election

Jun 7, 2023, 3:39 PM | Updated: Jun 27, 2023, 3:27 pm

Utahns responded to a survey that will help state and local decision-making guide Utah's developmen...

The Utah State Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. This year, there are eight seats open on the Utah State Board of Education, and 20 candidates are hoping to fill them. (AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

(AP photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah legislature is considering pushing Utah’s municipal elections to later in the year, so the state can also hold a special election to fill the seat of retiring Congressman Chris Stewart, R-Utah, on the same days.

Multiple sources familiar with those talks said a September primary and December general election was presented as an option to House and Senate Republican caucuses. Members of the House appear to be pushing back. One source said they want the date to be mid-November. That would put a primary in early September and a general before Thanksgiving.

Moving the municipal elections in Utah

Pushing back the municipal primary and general elections would mean every mayor, or city council person who has an election this year has to have an extra few weeks of campaigning and money it costs to do that. It also has impacts on getting voters to turnout. 

But such a move could also save the state money. In this scenario, there are only two total election days for the state to pay for. It also might make county clerks’ jobs easier to administer because they’re not sending out ballots for two separate elections.

While this timeline isn’t set in stone, it comes the same day as Gov. Spencer Cox’s office confirms to KSL NewsRadio they have received Congressman Chris Stewart’s resignation letter.

The office has now confirmed Chris Stewart will vacate the seat on September 15, 2023.

Getting this letter, is significant for finalizing the timeline. It means that the governor now has 7 days to release the special election schedule. In the scenario where election dates are moved back, lawmakers have to go into a special session to shorten the timeline in the existing law governing special elections. They also have to change the law to allow for a special election to be held on the same day as a municipal primary. The governor has previously stated he supports calling them in to change the law.

Lawmakers meet for interim meetings next Wednesday. In May, Utah held a special session at the end of the interim day. Lawmakers don’t hold those meetings in July. 

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Utah legislature eyes moving back municipal elections for special congressional election