Elections – Alliance for a Better Utah

Elections

Local government elections may not be quite as exciting as national ones, but your representatives at the city and state level will likely have a much higher impact on your daily life.

We keep tabs on elections and the election process to make sure no party is given an unfair advantage.

 

 

The ABU Education Fund has put together a guide on the constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives that will be on the November 2018 ballot. Click above to learn more!

2018 Debate Series

The ABU Education Fund is once again partnering with the John R. Park Debate Society to host debates in this year’s state and federal races. The ACLU of Utah’s Smart Justice Campaign will also be a partner for several county attorney races.

Register to Vote!

Visit our friends over at Voterise for a quick and easy way to register to vote, or update your registration if you’ve moved! Get ready to vote this year!

Latest Blog Posts and News

2018 Midterms

The voting is done, the ballots are being counted. Some victories have been declared and some are still too close to call. We’re all on pins and needles to see how everything finally resolves, and the Better Utah staff took a moment to reflect on the 2018 midterms.   Katie: As of this writing, it…

Do these words represent your beliefs?

With midterms just around the corner it’s safe to say there will be no shortage of controversy this election year. Utah may not be a hotbed for election drama, but there is one candidate whose racist comments, anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and demeaning views towards women are flying under the radar. House District 31 Republican Candidate Fred…

Debate held for Utah County Attorney seat ahead of elections

This article originally appeared in the Daily Herald. Read it in its entirety here. Differing ideas about prosecuting marijuana showed a stark contrast between the two men vying to be the next Utah County Attorney. The ACLU of Utah’s Campaign for Smart Justice and the Alliance for a Better Utah’s Education Fund hosted the Utah…

Candidates clash over Medicaid expansion in competitive Utah House race

This article originally appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune. Read it in its entirety here.  Sandy • One clear difference emerged Wednesday night in the race for state House District 32 in southern Salt Lake County: the candidates’ clashing views on the ballot measure to expand Medicaid. Democrat Suzanne Harrison supports Proposition 3 as a lifesaver…

County Government Needs You

Within 10 minutes of meeting someone, I can’t help but ask if they’re registered to vote. I’m the worst, I know. I’m sure it’s not doing me any favors in the dating scene, but I can’t help myself. The responses I often get are “no, it doesn’t matter” or something to that effect. With nationwide…

Press Release: Better Utah Calls for Legislative Fix to Initiative Process

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 24, 2018 BETTER UTAH CALLS FOR LEGISLATIVE FIX TO INITIATIVE PROCESS Salt Lake City, UT – Today, the Utah Supreme Court denied the petition of Count My Vote to be reinstated on the November ballot. Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy council for Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the…

Judge: Clerk Falsified Complaint Against Navajo Candidate

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge who ordered a Utah county to put a Navajo man back on the ballot has determined the county clerk violated state law by improperly dating the residency complaint and by overstepping his role. U.S. District Judge David Nuffer said in his written decision filed Thursday night that Democrat Willie Grayeyes’…

Alliance for a Better Utah calls for immediate resignation of San Juan County clerk

(KUTV) — Alliance for a Better Utah called for the immediate resignation of San Juan County Clerk John Nielson after a federal judge found a falsified official document Saturday morning. Following a federal judge’s finding that Nielson falsified an official document – which led to the contested removal of Willie Grayeyes from the November ballot – Alliance…

Press Release: Better Utah Calls for Independent Investigation Into San Juan County Clerk’s Allegedly Doctored Complaint

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2018   BETTER UTAH CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATION INTO SAN JUAN COUNTY CLERK’S ALLEGEDLY DOCTORED COMPLAINT Salt Lake City, UT – Today, a federal judge ordered that Willie Grayeyes, Utah Navajo activist and Democratic candidate for the San Juan County Commission be reinstated to the ballot, holding that…

Crowd of Democrats jockeys for primary win to replace retiring state Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck

With their eyes on an open seat in House District 24, four Democratic primary candidates met to introduce themselves to Salt Lake City voters and to discuss the issues that they feel are most pressing to their constituents. At a debate this week at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Darin Mann, Jacquelyn Orton, Igor…

Press Release: Uncounted Ballots and Rescission Shenanigans Show Poor Process

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 16, 2018 UNCOUNTED BALLOTS AND RESCISSION SHENANIGANS SHOW POOR PROCESS Salt Lake City, UT – Following the revelation that over 150 ballot initiative signature packets were missing or otherwise went uncounted a day after clerks were required to have verified signatures and signature rescissions, Josh Kanter, founder and board…

Anti-marijuana group says it’s working with the DEA to sabotage medical pot

This article by Alan Pyke originally appeared at ThinkProgress.org.  Federal officials are getting dragged into a state-level fight over medical marijuana, after opponents of a ballot initiative to legalize the idea in Utah claimed that the Drug Enforcement Agency supports their efforts. The group, Drug Safe Utah, is a registered political organization fronting for the…

Press Release: Initiative Opponents Should Fight Fair and in the Open

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2018   INITIATIVE OPPONENTS SHOULD FIGHT FAIR AND IN THE OPEN Salt Lake City, UT – Campaigns are underway to narrowly disqualify the medical marijuana and Count My Vote ballot initiatives, asking voters to rescind their signatures now that the deadline for signature-gathering has passed. On Friday, good…

Should We Be Criticized For Our Numbers?

My generation has been historically horrible at voting. Absolutely awful. For how much we speak out, sit in, and organize to advocate for our values and the issues that matter most to us, our turnout never seems to match our outcry. Observed by some from the outside, we are the generation that complains and demands…

Press Release: Representatives Pass Bill Giving Themselves Time To Change Initiatives

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 5, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah   (WE SPOKE TOO SOON) REPRESENTATIVES PASS BILL GIVING THEMSELVES TIME TO CHANGE INITIATIVES   Salt Lake City, UT – After initially being defeated on the floor of the House, representatives reconsidered H.B. 471, “Initiative Amendments” and passed…

Press Release: GOP Legislators Introduce Bill To Avoid Confrontation With GOP Central Committee

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2018 CONTACT: Katie Matheson | Alliance for a Better Utah   GOP LEGISLATORS INTRODUCE BILL TO AVOID CONFRONTATION WITH GOP CENTRAL COMMITTEE   Salt Lake City, UT – As has been well publicized, the Utah GOP Central Committee recently passed a bylaw change that puts the party in…

November Is a Time to Be Grateful…And to Learn More About the Legislature

It’s the middle of November, which means we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. Next week is Thanksgiving and Christmas is just around the corner. For me, the middle of November also means the next Legislative Session is just around the corner as well. We are now only 67 days away...

Op-ed: After the election, Utah still needs third-party voices

This Op-ed was originally published in the Deseret News. To see the original version, click here. Watching the 3rd Congressional District debate hosted by the Alliance for a Better Utah Education Fund and the University of Utah’s John R. Park Debate Society made one thing very clear: Political discourse is incredibly important. While the election…

2018 Ballot Initiatives: What You Need to Know

Authored by Rochelle Kaplan, Better Utah Board Member Several 2018 ballot initiative petition packets are making the rounds, via volunteers. I carry three of them to social functions, doctor’s appointments, walks with my dog Panda, and the gym, trying to garner signatures. We have until April to gather valid signatures that must be equal to...

“Two debates to be held featuring 3rd Congressional District candidates”

Source: Daily Herald With elections just over a month away, Utah residents will have two opportunities to hear candidates for the open 3rd Congressional District seat make their case. Two formal debates will be held. The first, put on by the ABU Education Fund and the John R. Park Debate Society, will take place at…

‘Specter of Trump’ hangs over 3rd Congressional District debate

President Donald Trump may not have been mentioned much during a debate Friday among four of the candidates seeking to fill the vacant 3rd District seat in Congress, but he still may have had an impact. Both Democrat Kathie Allen and the new United Utah Party’s Jim Bennett brought up the controversial GOP leader several…

Double Feature at the Utah Legislature

Another month, another Interim Session with the Utah State Legislature. Except September consisted of twice the fun (or twice the boredom) because the Governor decided to call a Special Session to be held on the same day! I spent all day up at the Capitol and here’s a quick run-down on what I saw and…

DETAILS ANNOUNCED FOR CD-3 SPECIAL ELECTION DEBATE

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, September 15, 2017 CONTACTS:     Averie Vockel | ABU Education Fund | avockel@gmail.com – – – – – DETAILS ANNOUNCED FOR CD-3 SPECIAL ELECTION DEBATE Debate presented by the ABU Education Fund & the John R. Park Debate Society – – – – – Sandy, UT –  The ABU…

Hits & Misses: Government Goals – UTA reform, partisan gerrymandering, ag-gag laws and more

Source: City Weekly Erase Our Sour Feelings Dear Sen. Wayne Harper, you are fabulous and smart, and we will keep saying that as you carefully and thoughtfully consider reining in the Utah Transit Authority. We know that many of the board members and developers are your close friends. But they’ll forgive you. We’ll call you…

Polarization of Politics

Let’s play a little game. As you read the following statements, pay close attention to your reactions. Alright, understand the rules? Let’s go. – – – – – Trans men and women should be able to use the bathroom of their gender identity. Climate change isn’t real. It’s a Chinese hoax to bankrupt America. Humans…

Partisan School Board Elections and the Future of Sex Education in Utah

Last year, the Utah Legislature passed a law which requires the Utah State Board of Education hold partisan elections in 2018. An ongoing lawsuit aims to reverse that mandate, but if it fails, school board candidates will be required to declare their party affiliation. Given that Utah is undeniably dominated by the GOP, it is…

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes wants to protect us from ourselves and keep gerrymandering

Source: Salt Lake Tribune and True Viral News A recent Salt Lake Tribune/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows that, by a 61 percent to 22 percent margin, Utah voters favor having an independent commission redraw political boundaries to undo the partisan practice of gerrymandering. Poor fools. They just don’t know what’s good for them. So,…

Press Release: Debate Announced for Third Congressional District Special Election

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 30, 2017 CONTACT: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah chase@betterutah.org – – – – – – DEBATE ANNOUNCED FOR THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT SPECIAL ELECTION UofU’s John R. Park Debate Society & ABU Education Fund Partner for Upcoming Debate – – – – – – Salt Lake…

Letter: Herrod is Trumpesque

Source: Deseret News Chris Herrod and Ronald Reagan do have something in common — good hair. That’s where the similarity ends. Cherilyn Eagar got it all wrong in her op-ed of July 15. Chris Herrod, a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 3rd Congressional District, is not Reaganesque. But he is definitely Trumpesque. He…

On winning, ant hills and one-party system in Utah

Source: Herald Journal Winning brings on a high more potent than the strongest drug. We were right and they were wrong. Our team, our religion, our ideas, our way of life is superior to theirs. The more dominant the win, the greater the high. We are in control and they should do things our way….

BETTER UTAH COMMENDS LT. GOVERNOR COX’S RESPONSE TO REQUEST FROM PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, July 3, 2017 – – – – – – BETTER UTAH COMMENDS LT. GOVERNOR COX’S RESPONSE TO REQUEST FROM PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMISSION ON ELECTION INTEGRITY – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – For the second time since the November election, Lt. Governor Cox has stood…

Press Release: New Lawsuit Challenging 2018 Partisan School Board Elections

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 27, 2017   – – – – – – NEW LAWSUIT CHALLENGING 2018 PARTISAN SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – A group of education-minded individuals and advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit yesterday to challenge last year’s law establishing partisan elections…

Sheryl Allen: We deserve nonpartisan elections in education

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune The 2018 election year will be different, very different. We’ll be voting on many elected officials. All of them will be important. But elections for the Utah State Board of Education will be altered. For the first time in decades, those elections will be partisan. Yes, that means candidates will…

Local educators file lawsuit challenging partisan school board law

Source: KJZZ A group of local educators will file a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a 2016 Senate bill that allows partisan elections for the Utah State Board of Education. “Few things are less vital and should be less partisan than the education of our children,” said Josh Kanter, board chair of the ABU Education Fund and…

Utah’s partisan school board elections are unconstitutional and exclusionary, advocates say. Now they’re suing

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune A group of education-focused Utahns on Tuesday asked a state judge to toss out the 2016 law that requires partisan elections for the Utah State Board of Education on the grounds that it violates the state Constitution. Set to take effect in 2018, SB78 violates the Utah Constitution’s ban on…

RadioActive: June 27, 2017

Source: KRCL Hosted by Lara Jones and Noor Ul-Hasan, tonight’s RadioActive was packed full of grassroots activists and community builders working on healthcare, non-partisan elections for the board of education, refugee and immigrant rights, and imploring others to speak up and speak out often. Guest lineup: Jim McConkie, Refugee Justice League, with reaction to the…

Lawsuit says Utah school board election shouldn’t be partisan

Source: Deseret News and KSL.com Current, former and possibly future members of the State School Board, the Utah PTA and Utahns for Public Schools have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a law passed by the Utah Legislature in 2016 that calls for partisan Utah State Board of Education elections. At a press conference…

June 2017 Interim Session – Boards, Commissions, Campaign Finance, and Poll Watchers Update

Government Operations Interim Committee – June 21 Review of Boards and Commissions with Legislative Participation To help make policy, the Legislature depends heavily on boards and commissions. These entities cover a variety of issues and policy areas, such as healthcare on the Health Reform Task Force, public lands on the Commission for the Stewardship of…

What’s the Deal with the Special Election?

On May 17, Rep. Jason Chaffetz rocked the news waves when he announced his intent to resign as the representative of Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.  His resignation, which will be effective as of June 30, left state leaders scrambling to put together a special election so the 3rd District could choose a replacement. The controversy…

Op-ed: Utah’s governor, Legislature are both half right

Source: Deseret News In the battle over the process for replacing U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the governor and the Legislature are each half right, but their refusal to compromise is wrong for Utah. On April 19, Rep. Chaffetz announced he would not stand for re-election in the 3rd Congressional District. In the immediate aftermath, members…

Press Release: Better Utah Responds to Special Election Timeline

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 19, 2017 CONTACT: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah – – – – – – BETTER UTAH RESPONDS TO SPECIAL ELECTION TIMELINE – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – In response to Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s announcement today laying out the timeline…

Election Date Set – Lt. Gov. lines up schedule for Chaffetz’ replacement election.

Source: Salt Lake City Weekly Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says his office gets sued a lot. He was sued, for example, by the Utah Republican Party claiming that the requirement, outlined in Senate Bill 54 regarding the number of signatures to appear on the ballot, was too onerous. So don’t act too surprised if his…

Gov. Herbert takes control of special election process to fill Rep. Chaffetz’s seat

Source: Deseret News Gov. Gary Herbert took control Friday of the special election process to fill Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s 3rd District congressional seat, frustrating legislative leaders who called his action a legal risk to the state. But neither House nor Senate leadership appear to be interested in taking the governor to court to stop the…

2017 Interim Session – Voter Participation Update

Government Operations Interim Committee There were a range of topics in this month’s Government Operations Interim Committee meeting, but we honed in on one major topic: voter participation. Rep. Patrice Arent presented on Presidential Primary Funding. During the legislative session, Arent and her co-sponsor, Sen. Curtis Bramble, passed a bill requiring the state to hold…

Press Release: Governor Must Ensure Full Voter Access in Special Election

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 18, 2017 CONTACT: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah   – – – – – – GOVERNOR MUST ENSURE FULL VOTER ACCESS IN SPECIAL ELECTION – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – In response to Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ announcement that he will…

Lawmaker fires warning over process for replacing Chaffetz

Sources: Deseret News and KSL.com The conflict between Utah’s governor and state Legislature escalated Thursday after Rep. Jason Chaffetz officially announced his plans to leave Congress, with legislative leadership threatening legal action over how the vacancy is filled. Gov. Gary Herbert has said he will not call a special session of the Legislature for state…

Gehrke: Herbert is right to not let Chaffetz’s replacement turn into a political game

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune You can’t take politics out of politics, as we’re witnessing in the maneuvering over how to pick a likely replacement to Rep. Jason Chaffetz. The congressman is widely expected to resign from office, possibly within a few weeks, and Gov. Gary Herbert is getting intense pressure from legislative leaders and…

A Return of Pay-to-Play?

Has Reyes already forgotten the follies of his predecessors? One would think that with the trial of John Swallow having concluded so recently, his errors would still be fresh in everyone’s minds. Apparently not so for current Attorney General Sean Reyes. The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported that there have been some shady donations showing…

Press Release – SPECIAL SESSION OF LEGISLATURE NEEDED FOR SPECIAL ELECTION

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 20, 2017 CONTACT: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah | chase@betterutah.org – – – – – – SPECIAL SESSION OF LEGISLATURE NEEDED FOR SPECIAL ELECTION – – – – – – Salt Lake City, UT – Following the news that Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-3) will not…

State plans for special election after Chaffetz confirms he may step down before his term ends

Source: Deseret News and KSL.com SALT LAKE CITY — Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, confirmed Thursday he may step down before the end of his term, sending state officials scrambling to get a process in place for a potential special election to fill his 3rd District seat in Congress. “My future plans are not yet finalized,…

Press Release – REYES LOSING PUBLIC TRUST OVER CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS

Salt Lake City, UT – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes is under fire following a recent uptick in donations from companies regulated by the FTC. Now, the good-government group Alliance for a Better Utah is asking Reyes if his campaign is complying with the procedures he has previously laid out relating to accepting and managing…

Press Release – BETTER UTAH CALLS OUT HOUSE FOR RESTRICTING ACCESS TO DEMOCRACY

Salt Lake City, UT – Utah Policy reported this morning that two election law reform bills from Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck would be held in Rules Committee for the duration of the session. Holding the bills has the effect of killing them without giving the public an opportunity to be heard on these bills. HB 403…

Provo lawmaker’s bill raises concerns about partisan representation in Utah

Source: The Daily Herald Rep. Norm Thurston, R-Provo has introduced a bill in Utah’s 2017 legislative session that has some people worried about giving one political party too much power. House Bill 11, which would remove political party affiliation requirements for certain state boards and commissions, was recommended by the Government Operations Interim Committee on…

T’ville mayor’s campaign finance veto stands

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune The Taylorsville City Council failed Wednesday night to muster the two-thirds vote to override Mayor Larry Johnson’s veto of a proposed tightening of campaign finance disclosure laws. The 3-2 vote to override concluded a lengthy discussion, including public comment, about whether more transparency was needed in the financing of campaigns…

Think Your Vote Doesn’t Matter in Utah? Think Again!

This year Utah has been declared a battleground state! For the first time in decades, several presidential campaigns are spending money and sending high-profile surrogates to try and secure every vote they can in our state. Everyone will be anxious to see what happens in the Beehive State on Election Day! However, we’ve also seen…

Better Utah Asks Lt. Gov. to Provide Same-Day Voter Registration Information to the Public

Source: utahpolicy.com The Alliance for a Better Utah contacted the Lieutenant Governor’s Office requesting they provide Utahns with Election Day voter-registration information for those counties that will allow it this year. The request follows Better Utah’s discovery that this same day voter registration information is not readily available on the main election site for the State…

The Importance of Being an Educated Voter

I’ll never forget the moment when I came to immediately regret a vote I had cast because I had not taken the time to learn about the candidate. I had just moved to a new city where an election was taking place in the very near future. I learned one thing about one of the…

Op-ed: Automatic voter registration would boost Utah democracy

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune The “right to vote” is mentioned five times in the Constitution — more than the right to free speech, the right to bear arms or the right to privacy (which most of us believe is a fundamental right but is not even mentioned in the Constitution). It is then shocking to…

BETTER UTAH EXTENDS INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN BRIEFING REGARDING VOTER SUPPRESSION AND INTIMIDATION

Salt Lake City – The ABU Education Fund would like to invite those interested to participate in a phone call briefing addressing voter suppression and intimidation. Voting rights are an important topic during this election season, making this discussion especially timely.   Wendy Weiser and Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center and ABU Education Fund’s…

Editorial: Give mail-in voters one more day

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune One consequence of mail-in voting is that the act of democratic participation has a new and important partner, the U.S. Postal Service. And it’s a good partner. The ease of having a postal worker pick up ballots — and take them where they need to go to be counted —…

Better Utah Calls on Legislature to Change Mail-In Ballot Deadline

Source: UtahPolicy.com The Alliance for a Better Utah called on the Utah Legislature to make changes to Utah’s election law to allow mail-in ballots to be postmarked on election day. This comes, in part, in response to Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox’s ruling, required by existing law, that disqualified 64 ballots in Morgan, Rich, Summit and…

Group calls for changes in wake of mail-in ballot dispute

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune The Alliance for a Better Utah urged lawmakers to change the state’s election law to ensure ballots from rural Utahns are counted. The group’s call came two days after the lieutenant governor disqualified 64 ballots in a House race that were postmarked on primary election day. Current state law requires…

BETTER UTAH CALLS ON LEGISLATURE TO CHANGE MAIL-IN BALLOT DEADLINE

Salt Lake City, UT — Today, the Alliance for a Better Utah called on the Utah Legislature to make changes to Utah’s election law to allow mail-in ballots to be postmarked on election day. This comes, in part, in response to Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox’s ruling, required by existing law, that disqualified 64 ballots in…

Shurtleff, Swallow cases remain a wake-up call for public officials, politicos say

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune No longer confronted with criminal charges, former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff may be in the clear in a court of law, but the court of public opinion is another matter. And that reality, political observers say, should serve as a blunt reminder to every officeholder: Public corruption cases may…

Dem candidate calls Herbert speed-dating fundraising ‘disgusting’

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Weinholtz blasted Gov. Gary Herbert’s “speed-dating” tactic of campaign fundraising Friday and set aside time next week to meet with any voter to discuss any issue, without asking for campaign contributions. “It’s disgusting that the current governor would sell his time to the highest bidder in…

Sen. Mike Lee home sale didn’t violate campaign finance laws, FEC says

Source: Deseret News The Federal Election Commission has found that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, didn’t violate campaign finance laws with the short sale of his Alpine house five years ago. The Alliance for a Better Utah filed a complaint against Lee in 2014, alleging he accepted improper campaign donations from the company that took a…

Better Utah Urges Caution in Response to Senator Lee’s Running for Position of Power

Salt Lake City – Responding to the news that Senator Mike Lee (R – Utah) is running to serve as the Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, the fourth-highest position in the Senate with the responsibility of helping craft the Republican Party’s policy agenda, the Alliance for a Better Utah announced that a part…

ABU Files FEC Complaint That Helps Launch Federal Lawsuit

The FEC decided to file suit against Jeremy Johnson for illegal campaign donations after ABU filed a complaint with the FEC in June 2014 over straw donations.

Could initiatives rescue voting?

Could the lack of ballot initiatives in Utah be hurting our voter turnout? Turns out, it could be a significant factor in our low number of voters. For the past 10 years, several states have led the way in voter participation: Maine, Wisconsin, Colorado, Alaska, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington. There is no obvious partisan similarity…

Get ready for fireworks over SB54

The Utah State Legislature is set to reconvene next week and, with it, a slew of controversial bills–from marriage and nondiscrimination to medicaid expansion and federal land lawsuits. One such controversial issue is 2014’s SB54, otherwise known as the Count My Vote compromise. While the initial Count My Vote ballot initiative would have completely eliminated…

Most Utah legislators being sold to highest bidder

Last week the Salt Lake Tribune reported on campaign contributions. According to their research, 7% of all legislative campaign contributions come from average citizens, just your everyday constituent of a senator or representative. That’s right, just 7%, or 70 cents out of every $10 donation–not even enough to buy a soda from a vending machine….

Make a post-election plan to stay engaged

Election cycles can be exhausting. Our mail is inundated with candidate flyers, every television ad is one opponent or the other, and there isn’t a spare piece of land without a campaign sign. But we’re here, we’ve reached the end of this election year. There are celebrations for the winners and commiserations for those defeated….

Martindale: Utah’s proposed constitutional amendments a rush job

With little discussion and even less fanfare, Utahns will vote on three changes to Utah’s constitution on Election day. Maryann Martindale, Better UTAH executive director, recently discussed the three constitutional amendments, and the rush job that got them on the ballot, in a weekend op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune. The last time the U.S. Constitution was…

That one time Mike Lee shut down the Mighty 5

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character. – Horace Greeley Popularity is a curious thing. Everyone wants it–especially politicians. No elected official wants to have…

M.O. for Utah AG: sue the federal government

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– For two years, the Swallow saga filled the news. Ultimately, it was our election law violation complaint–and the subsequent investigation and recommendation of charges, that led to Mr. Swallow’s resignation. And although Swallow is no longer in…

Utah and the low-informed voter

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– When it comes to Utah politics and policies, Utahns can’t always say why they don’t like something, but they certainly know what they don’t like. Several recent polls have shown the same interesting, although not surprising, data…

Martindale: System that created Shurtleff and Swallow still here

It’s an important question: Are Shurtleff and Swallow bad apples in an otherwise fair electoral system? Or does the system itself need reform? In a weekend op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune, Maryann Martindale, executive director of Alliance for a Better UTAH, argued that citizens should avoid thinking of the Shurtleff/Swallow arrests as proof the system works….

Shurtleff and Swallow show the system needs reform

Utah had a first last week when not one but two former Attorneys General were arrested and charged with a dozen crimes each. Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow have been in the news steadily for the more than a year now so the charges came as less of a surprise and more of an “it’s…

Swallow and Shurtleff arrests are the beginning; new ethics laws are next

Legislature should enact new campaign finance laws – – – – – Salt Lake City–The group that filed the election law violation complaint that ended in former Attorney General John Swallow’s resignation is speaking out after learning that both Swallow and former boss, Mark Shurtleff, have been arrested this morning. Maryann Martindale, executive director of…

Complaint filed with FEC over Lee campaign donations

Wide-reaching FEC Complaint names Lee, Swallow, Johnson, McMillan, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Jane & John Doe Salt Lake City–Good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH recently filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, asking the FEC to investigate allegations that Senator Mike Lee accepted straw donations in his 2010 bid for United States…

Afghanistan voter turnout higher than Utah

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– If you vote next Tuesday in the primary elections, you may run the risk of getting a paper-cut while opening your vote-by-mail envelope or stubbing your finger grabbing for your car keys, but one thing is certain,…

Group to file FEC complaint against Sen. Mike Lee

Salt Lake City — Search warrants obtained yesterday by the Salt Lake Tribune in the investigation into former Attorney General John Swallow revealed allegations by Jeremy Johnson that Johnson and Swallow laundered some $50,000 in campaign contributions to Sen. Mike Lee. The Alliance for a Better UTAH, whose history of monitoring election law and campaign…

Voting expected to be down, down, down

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Voter turnout could reach devastating lows this fall if a new poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics is any indication. Youth voters are expected to be especially absent from the polls. Midterm elections usually feature significantly…

Delegates say yes to voter suppression at convention

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Four-thousand. That’s the number of delegates in the Utah Republican party. And a majority of them are out to get your vote. They don’t want you voting at all. Though both Democratic and Republican delegates opposed the…

A challenge to Democrats by a loyal dissenter

A fitting follow-up to a post I wrote two weeks ago on Utah’s unbalanced two-party system is a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune by Paul Rolly about Utah’s defective caucus system. Rolly suggests that the lack of candidates is a result of the current caucus/convention system. While his point is arguably true, Rolly’s article…

The week in letters: How to purchase a politician

An itemized price list for politicians, the social science behind the Deseret New’s coverage of same-sex parenting, and how a timely windfall helped pay for the State Capitol Building in this week’s letters to the editor across the finally-sunny state of Utah. Where is the price list for politicians? I’m looking for something that might…

Campaign finance changes distort democratic processes

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Unless you’ve been living off the grid, you probably heard last week that the Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional various limits on campaign donations. In McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court eliminated the aggregate limits…

Two-party system only works with two parties

Sometimes it feels like our two-party system is always in constant gridlock. Other times it feels like our only choice is between the lesser of two evils. While some might say that we need more alternatives, more parties, I’m happy with our two-party system. I believe it creates the right amount of balance to meet…

Moderate voters win session; Lockhart, lungs lose

Maryann Martindale, Better UTAH executive director, made the case in a weekend op-ed that despite a rather lackluster legislative session, there were still some clear winners and losers. Politics will probably always lend itself to a model in which some win and others lose. The winners and losers don’t line up quite how we expect….

Follow the PAC Money: Hatch & Lee

Political Action Committees, or PACs, can have a significant influence on the outcome of an election. In this regular blog series, I look at local PACs–where they get their money and where they are sending their money. In today’s post, I look at the Leadership PACs of Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. The selected transactions…

Constitutional accountability falls by wayside in bill that eliminates legislative review

Salt Lake City–The Legislature’s self-appointed constitutional expert, Rep. Ken Ivory, wants to make it more difficult for legislators to know whether or not their laws will pass constitutional muster. Ivory’s HJR7, Joint Rules Resolution on Legislative Review, which would eliminate what are often referred to as constitutional review notes, quietly passed the House late Wednesday…

Dropping Swallow complaints shows Utah State Bar needs retooling

The Utah Bar Association responded today to an op-ed last week by Better UTAH board member David Irvine and Russell Fericks, former co-chair of the Utah State Bar’s ethics committee. In their earlier op-ed, Irvine and Fericks argued that the Bar’s lack of action on a Better UTAH bar complaint into former Attorney General John Swallow’s…

What does a 50K campaign contribution get you?

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– Since Governor Gary Herbert first ran for the post in 2010, he has received eight donations over 50,000 dollars and around 100 donations over 10 thousands dollars. Herbert is rolling in the dough. With all that money,…

Voter rights under attack again in Utah

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– We are now in week two of the legislative session and the political stakes and chatter are starting to increase. Two bills that relate to electoral participation are of particular concern. HB244, Voting and Voter Registration Amendments,…

Count My Vote Initiative is about power

Even though the meeting of the Republican State Central Committee a few weeks ago was concerned largely with finding a replacement for former Attorney General John Swallow, the Count My Vote Initiative made a sneak peak in the end. In fact, the initiative was an underlying anxiety throughout the whole meeting. You might even say the…

Count My Vote doesn’t fix all voting issues

Late last month the Alliance for a Better UTAH officially endorsed the Count My Vote Initiative. Although the initiative will be a welcome step for reforming Utah’s broken caucus system, it is only the first step. Better UTAH board member Sheryl Allen took to the opinion pages of the Deseret News to argue the important…

Election law violation probe should result in removal of AG John Swallow

Salt Lake City – Numerous reports are emerging that a special investigator with the Utah Lt. Governor’s office, assigned to investigate an election law violation complaint filed in March by the good government group Alliance for a Better UTAH, has chosen to recommend that State Attorney General John Swallow be charged with multiple misdemeanor offenses….

Today is the last day to register to vote

Time is running out for those hoping to be eligible to vote in the upcoming Utah municipal elections. Today is the last day to register online before the November 5 elections. You can learn the who, what, when, where, and why of voting in Utah by checking out this information page or by watching the video…

Count My Vote initiative scratches the surface

The Better UTAH Beat airs Tuesday afternoons on KVNU’s For the People. Podcasts of previous episodes are available here. —– It’s no secret that voter engagement in Utah is at an all-time low. Utah used to rank in the top few states for voter turnout but we are now consistently in the bottom few, battling it for…

Electronic voting needs to go

Voting technologies have not substantially changed in the last 150 years or so.  In fact, the last significant change in voting was the introduction of the secret ballot in the United States. Prior to the secret ballot, voting was conducted orally, in which male voters–women, of course wouldn’t get the vote for many more decades–gathered…

Holyoak: Why is voter turnout so low?

Better UTAH Communications Director Isaac Holyoak talked low voter turnout in a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed over the weekend. He suggested that low voter turnout can’t be solved by arguing among the experts. We need to ask Utahns their particular reasons for voting or not voting if we are to improve voter turnout in Utah….

Getting it right on the right to vote

During the last legislative session, I worked very hard on an election day voter registration bill. It passed the House easily, but after the county clerks got involved, it ended up failing in the Senate on the last night of the session. There were several elements to the clerks’ arguments–unknown expectation of additional work, additional…

Local government makes America great

With the exception of the photo of me here after having just voted early, there isn’t anything very sexy about voting in your municipal primaries. I guess that is the nature of local government. Unlike voting for the President of the United States, when the polling stations are buzzing with enthusiastic voters both nervous and…

Municipal elections matter

Better UTAH Beat Episode 59 – August 6, 2013 It can be hard to care about much of anything in August. The days are hot even while they start to get shorter. After weeks without much water, gardens are droopy and sad-looking, lawns a little more yellow. Meanwhile, kids all over the country are dreading…

Voter turnout will improve with same day voter registration

In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about the state of our electoral process. I discussed how our democracy was in crisis because voting was becoming too difficult and apathy was growing. These two factors had combined to create an environment where people did not want to cast a ballot anymore. I wrote this…

Voting Could Get Easier in Utah

Voting is one of the most fundamental aspects of our democracy and one of the most basic rights we have as citizens. Unfortunately, voting is in crisis in Utah. This crisis is the result of both restrictive laws that make registering and casting a ballot more difficult and political apathy on the part of citizens….

Poll Retraction Wins Salt Lake Tribune a Better Beehive Award

Salt Lake City — Each day this week the Alliance for a Better UTAH will announce a winner of its 2012 Better Beehive Awards. The award recognizes five notable Utahns and groups for their progressive efforts this year. The third Better Beehive goes to the Salt Lake Tribune Editorial board for its decision to retract…

Press Statement on Salt Lake Tribune’s Retraction of Error-filled Poll

Salt Lake City — In light of internal polling by the Alliance for a Better UTAH and Dan Jones & Associates, the Salt Lake Tribune will retract their poll results for the County Mayor’s race tomorrow morning. Better UTAH has released the following statement with the hope that the Tribune will also retract the results…

Internal Polling Shows Discrepancies; Demonstrates Importance of Voting on Election Day

Salt Lake City — In light of internal polling conducted by the Alliance for a Better UTAH that shows wildly differing results from the Mason-Dixon poll recently released by the Salt Lake Tribune, Better UTAH is reminding citizens that elections are decided by votes cast, not polls published. “No matter what you may think, and…

KUER, Tribune and Others Cover Lies in Campaigning

State lawmakers joined us on Friday to expose some of the campaign lies we’ve seen in recent weeks. Selected media coverage below. KUER’s Whitney Evans reported on the now infamous “Dead People Should Not Vote” campaign and Better UTAH’s efforts to dispel that myth. The lawmakers pointed to a mailer the Utah Republican Party distributed…

Look Local on November 6

Founder Josh Kanter discussed the importance of local elections in a weekend editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune. From the governor’s race to the state legislative races, county races, and state school board races, this election is about our fellow Utahns who will influence our lives on a daily basis. So far this year, Congress…

Groups Seek to Bolster Turnout with National Voter Registration Day

Alliance for a Better UTAH was recently covered by the Deseret News for its efforts to reach out to Spanish-language speakers. As part of National Voter Registration Day, Better UTAH launched a voter registration campaign in Spanish and English, with special emphasis on the voting populations of Utah’s universities and colleges. You can read the…

Improving Voter Turnout, One Utahn at a Time

Chris Thomas of Public News Service covered our voter registration efforts today in an article that discusses the importance of improving voter turnout. SALT LAKE CITY – In Utah, low voter turnout has been a stubborn problem – and was even the focus of a Governor’s Commission a few years ago. So, this Tuesday –…

On Constitution Day: Voting Rights Questions Addressed in New Voter Registration Project

Salt Lake City – In honor of Constitution Day, and with just 50 days before the 2012 elections, a new voter registration drive, featuring a one-stop web portal and the wide distribution of a voter registration video, has been launched to address basic voting rights questions in Utah, including how to register and what to…

Press Release: Better UTAH Files Hatch Act Complaint Against Rep. Mike Noel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 09, 2011 Contact: Maryann Martindale Executive Director Alliance for a Better UTAH (801) 557-1532 maryann@betterutah.org BETTER UTAH FILES HATCH ACT COMPLAINT AGAINST REPRESENTATIVE MIKE NOEL Salt Lake City, Utah – In light of recent press statements with regard to the Hatch Act and potential violations by Representative Mike Noel, Alliance for…