Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Rep. David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City.
Independent voters may be shut out of GOP primaries
Politics » Lawmakers may allow law to expire, ending Election Day party switch.
First Published Jun 20 2012 03:23 pm • Last Updated Jun 20 2012 09:43 pm

Next Tuesday’s election could be the last time that unaffiliated voters — those not registered with any party — can sign up at the polls and participate in the GOP primary.

The Legislature’s Government Operations Interim Committee voted 7-3 Wednesday not to extend a law that currently allows such Election-Day party switches. That means the law will expire July 1, 2013, unless the full Legislature later reverses that action.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

If the law expires, unaffiliated voters would be able to cast a ballot only in Democratic or minor-party primaries — which those parties have opened to all voters.

The Utah Republican Party, however, requires those who vote in its primary to be registered members of its party.

While the law in question has allowed unaffiliated voters to join any party at the polls, it did not allow people already registered in a party to switch on Election Day.

Utah law allows voters to switch party affiliations anytime, except for 30 days before an election when all voter registration temporarily ceases. So if the current law expires, unaffiliated voters wishing to vote in a GOP primary would have to register as Republicans at least 30 days before the election.

Some Republicans have complained for years that members of other parties or unaffiliated voters could raid their primary to defeat stronger candidates.

However, Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said that is not why she made the motion to allow the law to expire, or "sunset." She said that law "applied only to unaffiliated voters. So by allowing it to sunset, we put all voters in the same category."

House Democratic leader David Litvack, D-Salt Lake City, moved to extend the current law for another five years. He said many unaffiliated voters are true independents who still want some influence on the ballot, and are not attempting political subterfuge by joining a party on Election Day.

"To make it more difficult for them to participate is not the way to go," he said.


story continues below
story continues below

The motion failed on a near party-line vote.

Rep. Kraig Powell, R-Heber City, the House chairman of the committee, was the only Republican to vote with Democrats to extend the current law — and said he was surprised that fellow Republicans voted so lopsidedly to let the current law disappear.

Allowing unaffiliated voters to switch on election day "is pretty much a fixture in Utah election psyche right now," Powell said. "Taking away their ability on the Primary Election Day to show up, affiliate and then vote closes them out of a substantial portion of our election process."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.