Judge Orders Both Sides in Lawsuit over SB54 to Mediate. Count My Vote Leaders Say That’s Not Legal

A Utah federal judge has asked the two litigants in the SB54 lawsuit to do something they don’t have the power to do – come up with a deal on the candidate reform law without having the authority to make such a deal.

U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, as this Salt Lake Tribune story details, has order the Utah Attorney Generals Office (representing the state) and the Utah Republican Party (which sued the state over SB54) to agree on a mediator and then go into mediation to resolve their disputes.


The AG can’t make the Legislature and Gov. Gary Herbert uphold any deal struck.

And the Utah GOP is suing over what it says are constitutional issues. How does the AG get to compromise on those?

In any case, the House and Senate sponsors of SB54 are not party to the lawsuit. And Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, and Rep. Dan McCay, R-Herriman, couldn’t make a binding compromise for the whole Legislature even if they wished to.

Finally, no one seems to be talking to the Count My Vote supporters – who struck the original deal over SB54 with lawmakers and Herbert in the first place.

Like the Legislature, CMV isn’t a party to the Republican’s lawsuit, either.

Rich McKeown, head of CMV, says he has seen lawsuits that were successfully mediated.

“I’ve seen it happen,” McKeown told UtahPolicy. “I don’t see how you do it with this legislation.”

McKeown says, in fact, that SB54 WAS the mediation over the CMV petition and the Legislature.

The CMV bosses, on behalf of the tens of thousands of petition signees, and the Legislature and Herbert reached a deal (SB54).

“It seems to me this is not a dispute” that other parties “can start fiddling with,” said McKeown.

“We believe all the pieces” of SB54 “are constitutional and should be upheld” by Nuffer.

“There is nothing to mediate here.”

The AG should “hold the line” and let the legislation as written and passed be upheld.

What some GOP legislators and party leaders are talking about – throwing a candidate nomination back to the party delegate convention if no one gets more than 50 percent of the primary vote – is completely unacceptable to CMV, says McKeown.

That process “would circumvent” what all of the CMV petition signees supported, he added.

It is “speculative” that the top vote-getter candidate n a party primary would win with less than 50 percent of the vote.

Even if that did occasionally happen, “it is not a big problem” since any number of general election candidates have won office in the past with less than 50 percent of the vote.

And there hasn’t been a problem with that among voters.

The GOP bosses’ attempt to throw a minority primary winner back into the delegate convention “is a solution in search of a problem.”

Better to wait it out over a few election cycles and see what really happens, says McKeown.