Marsha Holland — a candidate unaffiliated with any party who is challenging controversial GOP San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman for a Utah House seat — says wording on state ballots suggests that independent candidates like her are unfit for office.
So she is suing to change it — not this year, but in the future.
A 2-year-old law requires an asterisk on unaffiliated candidates’ names that flags to this statement: “This candidate is not affiliated with, or does not qualify to be listed on the ballot as affiliated with, a political party.”
Holland, a tour-guide operator residing in Tropic, Garfield County, said in a news release that that “is confusing voters,” and that some interpreted it to mean that unaffiliated voters are not fit for office.
“Our Legislature should be interested in helping voters, not making things more difficult,” she said.
“I’m not asking to have ballots reprinted or to affect this election in any way,” she said. “Instead, I want a court to remind legislators that we are all bound by the Constitution. Since this issue is hurting voters now, it is critical that we start discussing the problem today.”
Her lawsuit contends that her constitutional right to equal protection under the law is violated by the wording that treats her differently from other candidates.
“As far as I am concerned, I’m running for re-election in 2020,” she said — assuming she can beat Lyman this year. “I do not want this to be an issue for me or other candidates in the next election.”
She is running to replace retiring Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, in a district that covers San Juan, Garfield, Kane, Wayne and Piute counties and parts of Beaver and Sevier.
Even though Holland is an unaffiliated candidate, she has outraised Lyman $44,700 to $14,000 this year.
Lyman was convicted of a misdemeanor for leading a 2014 protest ride onto protected federal lands, making him a heroic anti-federal voice for many Republicans in the heavily GOP district.