I was speaking with an influential and highly-regarded figure in Utah politics this week and realized most people, even those “in the know,” still don’t understand the basics of SB54. So here they are:
Under SB54, a political party has 4 options to get candidates on the ballot: become a RPP, become a QPP, run candidates as write-in candidates, or run candidates as unaffiliated candidates.
- Registered Political Party (RPP):
The RPP route is, verbatim, the CMV initiative option. To be on the political party’s primary ballot, candidates are required to
- obtain signatures of 2% of party members who reside in the political division of the office the person seeks.
- The primary is closed – only members of the party may vote – unless the party chooses to open the election to others.
Under RPP, if a party holds a convention, the winner of that convention has no automatic right to be on the party’s primary ballot, but must still get petition signatures to be on the primary ballot. There is no requirement that the primary election winner win by a majority of the vote, and there is no limit to how many candidates can be on the primary ballot. The winner of the primary is the party’s nominee on the general election ballot.
- Qualified Political Party (QPP):
The QPP route is the legislative compromise route that keeps the caucus/convention system part of the nominating process. Under QPP, to be on the general election ballot, a party must
- provide for alternate delegates at convention OR remote balloting at convention,
- allow candidates to access the party’s primary ballot by petition, and
- open the party primary to unaffiliated voters.
Unlike RPP, the winner (or winners) of the party’s convention has a spot on the party’s primary election ballot without obtaining petition signatures.
Like RPP, there is no requirement that the primary election winner win by a majority of the vote, and there is no limit to how many candidates can be on the primary ballot. The winner of the primary is the party’s nominee on the general election ballot.
(The number of signatures required for the petition portion of the QPP option are a set number, as opposed to a percentage of registered voters. For instance, candidates for statewide offices would need 28,000 signatures. Also different than the RPP route, a QPP candidate can obtain signatures from unaffiliated candidates, since they are eligible to vote in the primary election.)
- (and 4.) Write-in / Unaffiliated candidates:
A party could choose neither the RPP or QPP option and encourage their candidates to run as write-in or unaffiliated candidates in the general election. Such candidates will not be included in the primary elections, and will not have a party symbol next to their name (write-in candidates won’t even have their names on the ballot, obviously) on the general election ballot.
If a party chooses this path, the party will not be included on the general election ballot, and would need to re-register as a political party in order to be on the ballot again under its mark and symbol in a future election.