Proposed bill lowers the threshold for citizen initiatives to get on the ballot


Utah Capitol 10

Rep. Steve Handy, a supporter of the citizen initiative process, has introduced a bill that would slightly lower the bar to getting a petition on the ballot.

HB195 would lower the current 10 percent threshold statewide number required to 8 percent.

It would also lower the 10 percent needed in 26 of 29 state Senate districts to 8 percent.

Also changed is moving the formula from the number of voters in a presidential year to the number of registered voters overall.

Handy, R-Layton, says, for example, in 2018 it would have required 110,000 signatures instead of 113,000 statewide.

It would likely also mean that in most Senate districts the number of voter signatures would be a little less – depending on the number of registered voters in those districts.

Finally, the bill changes the date when the Utah Elections Office certifies petitions from June 1 to April 15 in the year of the petition.

Handy also wants to allow the elections office to have some ability to deal with clearly misleading language that comes in the state’s voter information material where different sides of a petition or referendum can describe their stands. And that is included in the bill.

Overall, Handy doesn’t see big changes in his bill.

But all bills are subject to amendment in the process, and provisions could be changed to make it easier or harder for petition backers to get the number of signatures they need to make the ballot.

Of course, in 2018 more than four initiatives started the process, and three were ultimately on the ballot. All passed – and lawmakers are looking to change part of all of those laws adopted by citizens.

Count My Vote initially appeared to have made the ballot. But GOP right wingers (Keep My Voice) were able to get enough signatures removed in several Senate districts to keep CMV off the ballot, even though polling showed considerable majority voter support for enshrining SB54 into law.