Monday, October 10, 2011

In Utah, One More Step to a June 26 Presidential Primary

Back in June, the Utah Republican Party decided to scrap ideas to revert to a caucus/convention system to select national convention delegates in the presidential nomination process. Instead, the party opted to focus on a primary. Since the Beehive state's presidential primary -- the Western States Presidential Primary election -- did not receive any appropriations in the FY2012 Utah budget, that left the state Republican Party no recourse but to hold the primary concurrent with state and local primaries in June.

The only problem is that there was/is no legal way of doing that  -- adding the presidential line to the ballot -- given current state election law. The Utah state legislature, in the midst of a special session, has done its part to remedy that situation, adding language to the law that would automatically trigger the later primary as an option should funds not be allocated to the first Tuesday in February presidential primary election. The section on the state funding requirement had been there prior to this, but not the trigger provision. Here is the new subsection added to the law (Section 20A.9.802, section 1.a.ii):
A political party may participate in a regular primary election for the office of President of the United States only if there is no Western States Presidential Primary election in that year.
The bill (SB 3004) has passed both the Senate and the House with just one dissenting vote across chambers and now awaits Governor Gary Herbert's (R) consideration. The state Republican Party has already obviously signaled its desire to use the June primary as a means of allocating its national convention delegates, and this bill was a necessary part of that plan, though in the end, a bit of a formality with a Republican-controlled state government.

FHQ will add a link to the legislation to our left sidebar Presidential Primary Bills Before State Legislatures section.

Hat tip to Evan Millett for passing this information on to FHQ.

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