Utah agrees to move signature deadline after RFK Jr. lawsuit

Moving the deadline still requires approval from Utah lawmakers.

(Bethany Baker | The Salt Lake Tribune) Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at a rally in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023.

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. won a significant concession Thursday after Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson agreed to move the deadline for submitting signatures to get on Beehive State ballots next year.

Earlier this week, Kennedy’s campaign sued the state, alleging the Jan. 8 deadline was unconstitutionally restrictive. Henderson has agreed to push the deadline to March 5.

To appear on Utah’s ballot, presidential candidates who aren’t affiliated with a major political party must collect 1,000 signatures from Utah voters. During the 2020 cycle, the deadline to submit signatures was Aug. 17. The date was pushed up last year when lawmakers moved the filing period for all candidates to the first part of January.

“I am pleased Lt. Gov. Henderson had the courage to correct the wrong committed by the state Legislature in their intentional assault on the constitutional right of Utah voters to cast their vote for Mr. Kennedy in 2024,” Paul Rossi, attorney for Kennedy’s campaign, said in a news release.

Moving the deadline back to March is not something Henderson can do by herself. Because the date is set in statute, the Legislature must approve the revision in the upcoming session that begins in January. Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, told The Salt Lake Tribune he will sponsor legislation to make it official.

“Ironically, I started working on this legislation in June,” Weiler said.

Weiler added that his proposal only impacts independent presidential candidates.

The new March 5 date is the same day the Utah Republican Party holds its 2024 presidential preference vote at the party’s biennial neighborhood caucus meetings.