A federal judge has ruled that Utah cannot force political parties to allow unaffiliated voters to participate in primary elections. But the ruling doesn’t apply to the Utah Democratic Party.
U.S. District Court Judge David Nuffer has submitted his official judgment and injunction declaring that Utah law cannot force a party to open its primary elections to unaffiliated voters. But the ruling only applies to those who participated in the lawsuit. That is, the Utah Republican Party and the Constitution Party of Utah.
“Well, it’s not the ideal situation. That’s for sure," says Mark Thomas, director of elections in the Lt. Governor's office. "We would prefer to have one law apply to all political parties.”
He says while their voting system can handle allowing unaffiliated voters to participate with one party and not with another, his real concern is how confusing that might be.
“It does get confusing as you begin the process of educating voters, educating poll works and other election officials.”
Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon says he’s glad that his party will still be required to allow unaffiliated voters.
“We want to open our primaries to independents and unaffiliated," Corroon says. "We think that’s the right thing to do. We want people to get to have the opportunity to vote in primaries.”
While the final order has been issued with this lawsuit, the state and the GOP plan on taking other questions with the law to the Utah Supreme Court.