Is Celeste Maloy a registered voter if she was marked ‘removable’?
Jun 29, 2023, 9:03 PM | Updated: Jul 1, 2023, 12:09 am
(Ryan Sun/Deseret News)
SALT LAKE CITY — Is Celeste Maloy a registered voter even though voter records show she was on the removable list of Utah’s voter rolls when she filed to run for office?
That’s the center of debate ahead of her name being submitted as the party’s convention nominee in the race to replace her boss and current Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, in the special election for the 2nd Congressional District.
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So what’s the answer?
You don’t have to be a registered voter to qualify for the office Maloy is running for.
“There is no requirement for a congressional candidate to be a registered voter,” said Utah Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson in a tweet this week.
However, to gain access to the ballot per state law, you can’t file a declaration of candidacy for a registered political party of which you’re not a member.
And so, to have GOP Party membership, you have to “register to vote as a Republican.”
Therefore, simply put, you have to be a registered Republican to run through the convention path.
The fact that Maloy was on the removable list could have some people believing that she’s not a registered Republican and that makes her ineligible by the party for the ballot.
Maloy was placed on the removable list after being made inactive for moving to Virginia in 2019. She was then subject to being removed as a Utah voter altogether when she didn’t vote in two consecutive elections.
She was made removable on January 3, 2023 but remained on the voter rolls when she updates her registration again on June 15, 2023 to her sister’s house in Iron County.
The arguments about whether Celeste Maloy is a registered voter
Those who would say she is registered argue that you’re registered because you still exist in Utah’s voter rolls.
County clerks can find your voter file, as evidenced in the Maloy case when she went to update her voter record on June 15, 2023, in Iron County. The clerk found her voter history dating back to 2000 and records show it was the same voter ID number.
But those who might argue otherwise, say if you’re on the removable list in Utah, you have to re-register.
That’s because state law requires clerks to prepare an “eligible register” of voters before each election. This register is every voter entitled to participate in the election. You don’t get on that list if you’re in the removable group.
But just because you’re not on the list to vote doesn’t mean you can’t. You’d just do it provisionally, filling out that ballot that also acts as a registration form.
The argument is, simply being on the voter rolls doesn’t make you registered. Just because the Iron County clerk had Maloy’s information doesn’t mean she made this eligible voter list.
If this is the case, when Maloy had to update her registration on June 15, three days after she filed, she was “re-registering.” If she had been already registered, then the Lt. Gov.’s office wouldn’t have needed her to do anything.
The Lt. Gov. did not respond to request for comment for this story.
But Maloy’s voter file existed in the state’s voter rolls, so the flip side would be that she wasn’t re-registering, she was updating her activity status by changing her address to her sister’s house in Iron County.
The need to vote provisionally
There’s also the argument that if you aren’t registered you can’t vote. A provisional ballot does act as a registration form, but that doesn’t mean you are registering by filing one out.
A voter can fill out a registration form just to change their party. It doesn’t mean they’re not a registered voter.
At the same time, a provisional ballot is used to register someone who isn’t registered.
Several reasons exist in state law for a voter to use a provisional ballot to take action while still being registered.
Those include moving counties, not having a valid state ID, your address on file needing to be updated, if you were trying to vote in a different county than you’re registered in, or if you’re a same-day voter.
In these cases, on Election Day you would cast a vote provisionally while your registration status is updated. The voter record still exists, and in these cases, the state would be updating an existing registration.
The fact that you can’t vote on a regular ballot is what some believe is evidence that you’re not a registered voter.
Evidence Maloy a registered voter
State law state identifies when “a voter is to be removed.” And that very language state law uses would seem to signal that she is, indeed registered.
If Maloy isn’t a voter, how can she be a voter to be removed? And just because you can be removed doesn’t mean you are.
State law also defines a voter. A voter is an individual who “meets the requirements of voting in an election…of registration…is registered to vote…and is listed in the official register book.”
The “register book” is the voter rolls. Maloy was listed in Utah’s voter rolls.