SB 54 of 2014 is disliked by Republicans, because it regulates the process by which political parties in Utah, which are private organization, choose their candidates for state and county elections. Of particular concern at the time of the November 2016 Election, Utah, is a requirement that candidates be allowed to enter a race with a political party by gathering signatures, bypassing the normal caucus system, whereby candidates are elected by delegates. This creates expense for the political parties, undermines the authority of the party delegates. In Utah County, delegates were reported to have booed signature gathering candidates for their leveraging of this abusive provision, and the official party stance has been to refuse to acknowledge candidates (with either resources or endorsement) entering races via the signature gathering method.
The bill is a rather obvious violation of the 1st amendment, which is held to protect our right of association, and does not provide associations of people into political parties with equal protection under the law. We think of this as being akin to the Utah legislature telling the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints that in order to qualify as a religious organization, they have to allow members to vote for their bishops.
It is not hard to see how people might fail to see the constitutional issues with this bill, considering that the special status accorded to political parties is already unconstitutional and violates the equal protection under the law accorded to average citizens who see their voting choices diminished, and their chances of gaining support if they seek public office held in the clutches of party bosses.
Gary R. Herbert signed this bill into law.
- Marc Roberts, "H.B. 447 Political Party Amendments", Utah State Legislature 2017