Tuesday the Utah Democratic Party filed a motion to intervene in Utah Republican Party vs. Herbert.
Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon issued the following statement:
“Utahns have consistently stated they want open government and an open political process. The Utah Democratic Party has chosen to intervene to ensure the law is enforced fairly and properly and to make sure the Utah Republican Party is not allowed to rewrite our election laws, circumventing the will of the state legislature, a court decision, and, more importantly, the will of the people of Utah.
“The language of SB54, which the Utah Democratic Party supports as state law, is clear: a Qualified Political Party (QPP) is required to allow its members to choose between multiple paths to access their party’s primary election ballot: either through gathering signatures, participating in the convention system, or both. The Utah Republican Party and the Constitution Party of Utah have registered as QPPs and must abide by all stipulations under SB54. If they want to keep their convention system, they must allow candidates to access the primary election ballot via signature-gathering.
“The Utah Republican Party may be the state’s majority party, but that doesn’t mean election laws don’t apply to them. If the governor will not hold the State Elections Office accountable, the Utah Democratic Party will.
“Enough is enough. Either the Republican Party is going to follow the law passed by its Republican legislators and confirmed as lawful by a court, or it should be disqualified as a Qualified Political Party.”
For more than a year, the Utah Republican Party (URP) has been involved in a court battle against the State of Utah, seeking to overturn the will of Utah citizens in the form of SB54, a law passed by its own Republican legislators and signed by the Republican governor. In August 2015, the Utah Republican Party sent a letter to the Lieutenant Governor’s office to designate itself a Qualified Political Party (QPP) for the 2016 election cycle.
But in spite of its new status, the URP has openly announced its refusal to comply with the requirement that its candidates be allowed to choose whether they want to gather signatures to get on the primary ballot. The Utah Republican Party has filed as a Qualified Political Party but has repeatedly refused to act like one.
Meanwhile, Governor Herbert and Lieutenant Governor Cox, both members of the Utah Republican Party, have failed to enforce SB54 fairly and properly. In a letter dated November 19, 2015, Lieutenant Governor Cox wrote to URP Chair James Evans, “[w]hile I am the chief elections officer of the state, I am a devoted member of the Republican Party. As you well know, before I became Lieutenant Governor, I was actively engaged in opposition to the Count My Vote petition. I am a proud member of the Republican party, I am a product of the caucus/convention system, and I respect your efforts to protect that system.”
Herbert and Cox have shown preferential treatment to the Utah Republican Party and have failed to fulfill the duties of their respective offices. As a result, the Utah Democratic Party is stepping in to hold the State Elections Office accountable and to represent the interests of all Utah voters.
Herbert and Cox’s failure to uniformly and fairly enforce the requirements of SB54 for all QPPs, namely allowing the URP to flagrantly flaunt the requirement that its candidates have the option to choose to gather signatures, infringes on the First Amendment rights of the Utah Democratic Party (UDP), and all other QPPs, to engage in political speech and political association.