FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 18, 2017
CONTACT: Chase Thomas | Alliance for a Better Utah
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GOVERNOR MUST ENSURE FULL VOTER ACCESS IN SPECIAL ELECTION
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Salt Lake City, UT – In response to Rep. Jason Chaffetz’ announcement that he will leave office as of June 30th, Governor Herbert today doubled down on his refusal to call a special session of the Utah Legislature to determine the procedures for the special election that will be required to replace Chaffetz.
Current Utah law directs the Governor to issue a proclamation calling for a special election but does not direct the timing or manner in which the election should be held. This vagueness leaves open questions about who should set the procedures and what those procedures should be. Governor Herbert has insisted that existing election laws are sufficient to guide his office and has warned against manipulation of the system by the legislature where potential candidates for Chaffetz’ seat may currently hold office.
“We would prefer the Governor lay out a procedure and present it to the Legislature for adoption in their constitutional legislative role” said Chase Thomas, policy and advocacy counsel for Alliance for a Better Utah. “Regardless of how the procedures are put into place, the Governor must act to ensure access and participation of all eligible voters. As the Governor and Lt. Governor determine these special election procedures, it is critical they incorporate adequate procedures and timeframes to address voter registration deadlines, signature gathering, early voting, and other measures that allow the greatest possible access to the ballot.”
Yesterday, legislators, including Speaker Hughes, threatened legal action against the Governor if he moves forward with a call for a special election without first calling a special session of the legislature. The Governor appears to be acting out of concern that the legislature may prefer that party delegates select each party’s nominee, or that Chaffetz’ replacement be appointed by party delegates, rather than following the procedures of a regular election and as encapsulated in the SB54 compromise, thus allowing voters to be involved at every step of the process.
“While we would like the Legislature’s involvement, we disagree with its potential solution,” continued Thomas. “We are grateful that the Governor is placing an emphasis on allowing voters to be involved in choosing their next representative. As this unfolds over the coming weeks, our hope is that this election is conducted transparently, with fairness for all involved, and that any disagreements will be solved quickly so that the constituents of District 3 will soon have new Congressman representing them in Washington, D.C.”
About the Alliance for a Better Utah:
Alliance for a Better Utah is a good government advocacy and watchdog organization. The organization works to improve the lives of all Utahns by ensuring balance, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at www.betterutah.org.