ELECTIONS

Deadline approaching for voters to change party affiliation

Dec 28, 2023, 11:05 AM | Updated: Jan 8, 2024, 9:56 am

A letter sent to a voter unaffiliated with a party....

A letter sent to a voter unaffiliated with a party. (Becky Bruce/KSL NewsRadio)

(Becky Bruce/KSL NewsRadio)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Primary election season is on the horizon, but the deadline for Utah voters to change their party affiliation is almost here.

 The cutoff date for most voters in the state to register with another party is Jan. 9. 

Why switch party affiliation?

Salt Lake County Clerk Lannie Chapman said there’s a good reason Utahns might want to make a change.

“In the state of Utah, we have different rules for different parties,” said Chapman. “The Republican Party holds closed elections. So that means you have to be affiliated with the Republican Party in the state of Utah to participate in their primaries.”

That means Utah’s second and third largest voting blocs —unaffiliated and Democratic voters—  will not get to cast a ballot in the primary caucus elections for president or senator. 

“However, there are also some parties that are open [primaries],” said Chapman. “That includes the Democratic Party. So you don’t have to be affiliated with the Democratic Party to receive a democratic ballot, primary ballot, if one exists for your area.”

Utah voters have a choice of party options beside the major national ones, including the Libertarian, No Labels, United Utah, and Constitutional parties. Additionally, beginning in 2024, the Green Party of Utah will have a place on the ballot

But there’s a caveat: Utah voters who want to participate in an open primary but don’t belong to that party will have to request a ballot from their county clerk.

How can I change my party affiliation?

“It’s as easy as filling out a form,” said Chapman.

Chapman sent those forms out to registered voters in Salt Lake County. For those who have not received a form, they can go to their county clerk’s website or reach out by phone. The site for Salt Lake County’s clerk can be found here.

Exception to the rule

Unaffiliated voters are actually allowed to change their party affiliation after the Jan. 9 deadline.

“But then once you change it,” said Chapman, “you’re kind of locked in… for the remaining portion of the year where political affiliation is important.”

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Deadline approaching for voters to change party affiliation