Tribune Editorial: With four initiatives on the ballot, Utahns will finally get a voice

FILE - In this June 26, 2017, file photo, Davis Cromar, center, holds his son Holden, 10, who suffers from epilepsy, while standing with other patients, caregivers and supporters during the Utah Patients Coalition news conference, in Salt Lake City. Voters in the deep red states of Utah and Oklahoma will have a chance to legalize medical marijuana through ballot initiatives that offer the latest illustration of how quickly the United States is leaving behind taboos about the drug. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

Six went in, but only four came out. A haunted house? A Utah yard sale?

Nope. Utah’s ballot initiative process.

Monday was the last day to turn in signatures to qualify ballot initiatives for the ballot, and it looks like Utahns will have a lot to decide in November.

Namely, Utahns will weigh in on whether to legalize medical marijuana, whether to fully expand Medicaid, whether to create an independent commission to draw political boundaries and whether to enact Count My Vote’s version of the dual signature path to the ballot, with lowered signature thresholds, or whether to keep the Legislature’s version as-is.

County clerks are still verifying signatures, but the four campaigns each say they’re confident their signatures will be verified.

We provided a primer on each initiative in December and argued that the sheer number of initiatives supports the notion that Utahns are tired of waiting for the Legislature to enact certain policies important to Utahns.

Perhaps it says something about the business of signature-gathering in Utah, despite some bumps along the way (like being prone to attract the criminal mindset), as opposed to a lack of confidence in the Legislature. But all indications point to these initiatives as a sign of no confidence.

Ironically, it’s the sheer number of initiatives that might doom them all.

Most initiatives are straightforward and clear in their objective. But a voter opening a ballot will see four separate initiatives, with lengthy explanations, all at once. It is sometimes easier to just vote no.

Two initiatives originally proposed will not be on the ballot. The Our Schools Now initiative group withdrew its petition when organizers made a deal with the Legislature to increase education spending and put a gas tax increase on the November ballot instead. We argued earlier that such private negotiations undermine the credibility of the initiative system.

The Keep My Voice effort failed to collect enough signatures to put its initiative on the ballot, which hoped to repeal the 2014 legislation that created the dual path to primary ballots — convention and signature. Organizers submitted a “Letter of nonsubmission” explaining that they failed to collect enough signatures.

Utahns have been very clear that they prefer the option of both signature and convention pathways to the ballot as opposed to only one or the other.

KMV’s withdrawal letter exposes the group’s political ignorance. KMV accused other campaigns of starting to collect signatures last summer, but signatures gathered before Jan. 2, 2018, are not valid.


The people behind KMV must like to waste money, because they say they're gearing up for a new and improved 2020 initiative.

Because it’s not only the Legislature who won’t listen to the people.