June 27, 2017
Salt Lake City, Utah
A coalition of public education advocates and independent voter activists filed a case in Utah’s Third District State Court challenging a 2016 law passed by the state legislature.
Prior to passage of the law, a federal court struck down an earlier power grab in which the governor preselected which candidates could run in the general election. In response, and contrary to public support for nonpartisan elections, the legislature passed the partisan elections for state school board in 2016. The law will go into effect for 2018 State School Board elections unless the lawsuit prevails.
Reporters at a press conference at the State Capitol on Tuesday asked if this was an effort to keep partisan politics out of school administration and classrooms. Plaintiffs in the suit acknowledged that it was. Randy Miller, president of the Utah League of independent Voters added “this is also about voters rights. Under a partisan election scheme for state school board offices, there are no nonpartisan races left in general election years. Unless a voter consents to join or align with one of the political parties, they will receive an abridged ballot which will now be entirely blank”.
“And just to be clear, I will not join one of the political parties” he continued. “It is an intrusion on the rights of the people to expect them to join a private organization as a condition to receive an unabridged ballot in a publicly funded and administered election”.