Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans sent a letter to State Central Committee members today (reproduced below) saying that they have to review 600,000 voter records to see who is in compliance with the party’s Constitution and Bylaws.
This sounds relatively innocuous until you understand what this actually means. If you are one of the a registered Republican, you now have to abide by the Constitution and Bylaws of the party. The vast majority (over 500,000) of registered Republicans haven’t ever attended a caucus or other party meeting, so you probably don’t know what those are. As such, I give you the current Bylaws and Constitution.
If you’re a Republican, you should have no problem abiding by their precepts, right? I mean, they can’t be so full of minutiae and legalese that it’d take someone with a degree in Roberts Rules of Order to understand them…
The Constitution is shockingly straightforward, dealing primarily with procedural matters. One thing that stands out is a piece that is in conflict with Utah State Law, Article XII Sections 2 and 5. These declare that candidates may go straight to the general election if they get greater than 60% in the state convention, bypassing a state-mandated primary election.
The Bylaws are arcane and filled with gotchas. The biggest is the following:
Bylaw 8.0 (Candidate Disclosure)
“Candidates shall sign and submit a certification that they will comply with the rules and processes set forth in the Utah Republican Party Constitution and Bylaws[…]”
While this seems to only apply to the candidates, based on the above letter from Chairman Evans, he implies that he will extend this same requirement to all party members – essentially, you may be barred from the Utah Republican Party if you sign a petition for a candidate.
As emphasized repeatedly by Chairman Evans in his letters to the Lieutenant Governor, the Utah Republican Party doesn’t accept candidates who choose to gather signatures. Based on the list of candidates who have chosen to gather signatures, Chairman Evans could conceivably kick out (as of current writing) 7 sitting GOP senators and 10 sitting GOP legislators. Additionally, he could kick out sitting US Senator Mike Lee.
Is this too much power for one individual? Absolutely. This is the Utah Republican Party equivalent of the Nuremberg Laws and the Aryan Paragraph. Instead of swearing fealty to the Reich, Utah candidates are expected to worship at the altar of the Party, as led by Chairman Evans.
While I’m no fan of the Count My Vote movement, drastic overreaches, like applying the Führer Principle to party members show why the party should be decertified, either by the national Republican Party or by the State of Utah.
This also serves as one more way to depress voter engagement, as average voters hear the intrigue and angst of the party and vote with their feet to stay as far away from the muck and mire as they possibly can.
Dear SCC Members: I informed the Lieutenant Governor’s office today that under Utah Code 20A-9-406(1) political parties have until 5:00 pm on March 1, 2016 to submit the identity of one or more registered political parties whose members may vote for its candidates. I received a letter from our legal counsel (see attached) informing me that until the Utah Republican Party sends its certification letter to the LG’s office, elections officers may not process petition signatures for Republicans. You may recall that, prior to SB 54 the only membership requirement was to be a registered Republican voter, subsequently our membership requirements have changed. Party membership is now open to registered Republicans who comply with the UTGOP Constitution & Bylaws, and membership may be further defined in these Bylaws. Based on the new requirements we are reviewing the approximately 600,000 registered Republican voters and waiting to see if any further membership changes will be made at the 2/6/16 State Central Committee meeting. I am asking all County Chairs to inform your county candidates that, while they may gather signatures, none can legally be processed by elections officers until the LG’s office receives our certification. While we are working diligently, they should plan on the UTGOP meeting its March 1, 2016 deadline. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me by email or phone.
Sincerely, James M. Evans Chairman Utah Republican Party