Medical marijuana ballot close to qualifying for November’s ballot; Keep My Voice has not submitted any signatures yet

The citizen initiative to legalize medical marijuana in Utah is close to getting enough signatures to secure a spot on November’s ballot. But, the group seeking to repeal the signature-gathering route for candidates has not yet submitted a single signature to Utah election officials.

There are less than three weeks until the five citizen initiatives vying to make the 2018 ballot have to turn in more than 113,000 verified signatures. So far, none have crossed the finish line.

A report of verified signatures obtained from the Utah Elections Office through a government records request shows the Utah Medical Cannabis Act is closest, with more than 150,000 verified signatures. 

Even though backers of the medical cannabis act have more than the total number of signatures they need, they must also reach 10% of the vote from the last presidential election in 26 of Utah’s 29 Senate districts. By that standard, they’re close, but not there yet. They’ve exceeded the standard in 19 of those 26 districts, and are within striking distance in 6 more. 

“We are confident we’ll get all the signatures we need,” says DJ Schanz of the Utah Patients Coalition, the group backing the medical cannabis effort. “We think we have another 10,000 signatures left to turn in, so we’re in good shape.”

Count My Vote, which aims to solidify Utah’s hybrid nomination system, has submitted just over 56,000 verified signatures, which is about half the number they need to get on the ballot. Sources with CMV say they’re not worried about the low number of verified signatures yet, adding they have more than 130,000 signatures they’ve verified internally, but are waiting for county clerks to complete their verification process.

Better Boundaries, which seeks to establish an independent redistricting commission, has nearly 60,000 signatures, but those numbers are skewed a bit because they have either doubled or tripled the signature requirement in three Democratic-held Senate Districts. SD2, which is held by retiring Senator Jim Dabakis, accounts for nearly 20% of the total number of verified signatures so far. 

The Medicaid expansion ballot initiative is lagging behind with less than 40,000 verified signatures. They are within a thousand signatures of what they need in only 3 of the 29 Senate districts. Lawmakers passed a limited Medicaid expansion during the 2018 session that included work requirements for recipients and a cap on spending. Gov. Gary Herbert will sign that Medicaid expansion bill into law on Tuesday. The ballot initiative would have Utah take full expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Keep My Voice, which seeks to return to the days when Utah’s caucus system was the only way for candidates to get on the ballot had not submitted any signatures for verification yet. Keep My Voice did not respond to requests for comment. polling shows strong support for four of the five ballot initiatives:

However, only 17% of Utahns say they are in favor of the Keep My Voice proposal, which might explain why the group has not yet submitted any signatures. 

Our Schools Now, which sought a sales and income tax hike to provide more money for schools, dropped their ballot effort after cutting a deal with Utah lawmakers. Prior to that, they had submitted almost 27,000 valid signatures.