ELECTIONS

Special election and party switching, Utah Democrats, Republicans respond

Jun 14, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: 3:12 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah legislators met on Wednesday in a special session to discuss the special election to fill Rep. Chris Stewart’s seat and one of the topics for discussion is new rules to restrict party switching.

If a Utah voter planned to switch parties in the upcoming primary, the new law would provide a short timeline, or no time at all.

Democratic perspective on special election party switching

A new law would affect those who like to change their party affiliation for Utah elections.

“I’m sure there are a lot of voters across the state who are probably not very happy about it … a lot of people do like to switch their party affiliation to vote in these primaries,” Ben Anderson, communications director at the Utah Democratic Party told KSL Newsradio.

The Utah Democratic Party does not have an official stance on party switching, Anderson said, but they do welcome voters of any registered political affiliation.

Why Democratic voters in Utah switch parties

Anderson said many voters use party-switching as a political tool because they feel they have no other choice.

“(Republicans) use their power, to gerrymander our districts and make it harder for people in places like Salt Lake County to have fair representation,” he said. “So a lot of people say … they’re gonna play political games? We’re gonna switch party registration and vote in the primary for the candidate that we think would be best for the state.”

It’s a questionable strategy, he said.

“I don’t know how well it worked in 2020 in the governor’s primary or last year in the Senate primary, but a lot of people do feel like that’s the best way to have their voice heard.”

How Utah Republicans feel about party switching

Utah Republican Party chair Robert Axson believes the new law isn’t nefarious, but rather a fix to reflect a similar law already in effect for elections on even years.

“The Republican Party is a private organization, and we have decided to have a closed primary,” he told KSL NewsRadio.

“We invite any Utahn to affiliate as a Republican and be with us for years on end. Engage with us, and share your perspective and ideas.”

For Axson, the party-switching method is shortsighted. He said he’d prefer to have an open, honest conversation about political beliefs.

“I would prefer we all lay out our cards, (and say) here’s what we believe. And then let’s have that debate of ideas. I think it will improve all of us along the way.”

Switching for the primary election

Even with all the talk of party switching, Salt Lake County Clerk, Lannie Chapman, said it may not be possible. She told KSL at Night that a voter needs to make the change before the law takes effect.

“If a voter who is currently affiliated, let’s say United Utah, wanted to vote in the Republican primary, they would have to do so before the bill takes effect,” she explained. “Otherwise, the change does not take effect until after the primary is done.” 

Chapman expects the governor to sign the bill on Wednesday. That leaves those who wish to switch their affiliation out of time. However, Chapman noted that this change only applies to those who are already affiliated with a party. 

“This does not affect unaffiliated voters’ ability to affiliate,” Chapman said. “Newly registered voters too, they’re not held to this law, either. They can register to vote and still choose whatever party they would like to affiliate with.”

Related:

We want to hear from you.

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

Elections

Salt Lake City's 2023 mayoral candidates, from left to right: community activist Michael Valentine,...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

What Salt Lake City’s mayoral candidates have to say about Great Salt Lake’s future

The three Salt Lake City candidates for Mayor discuss the issues surrounding the Great Salt Lake ahead of the November election.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidates former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and ...

Eric Bradner, Gregory Krieg, Steve Contorno, Daniel Strauss and Arit John

Takeaways from the second Republican presidential debate

Listen to the recap from the second Republican debate today at 9:05 on Dave & Dujanovic! (CNN) — The Republicans vying to become the top alternative to Donald Trump in 2024 opened their second debate Wednesday night with new attacks on the front-runner, but their efforts to separate themselves from the pack were marred by a chaotic environment, […]

1 day ago

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson is pictured speaking. House Speaker Brad Wilson has filed as a candi...

Larry D. Curtis

Brad Wilson will seek vacant Senate seat after Mitt Romney’s term ends

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson announced Wednesday that he will run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

2 days ago

Image of former President Donald Trump walking to speak with reporters before departure from Hartsf...

Mark Jones

Breaking down President Trump’s decision to skip second GOP debate

Former President Donald Trump will skip next week's GOP presidential debate in California. Instead, he plans to visit Michigan and visit with workers there.

9 days ago

The OLRGC released an analysis of the expected topics to be discussed during a special session of t...

Lindsay Aerts

Republicans have three Utah lawmakers to replace, here’s how that happens

In just the last month, three Republican lawmakers have stepped down. The responsibility for replacing them falls on the Republican County and State conventions.

10 days ago

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) answers questions in his office after announcing he will not seek re-electi...

Simone Seikaly

Here’s what’s next after Sen. Mitt Romney announced no reelection run

Utah Democrats and Utah Republicans are settling in with the news that Sen. Mitt Romney will not be seeking another term.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

Special election and party switching, Utah Democrats, Republicans respond