Gov. Herbert suspends sections of Utah statute regarding signature gathering

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Changes makes accommodation for candidates to gather signatures to get on the ballot while following social distancing recommendations and requirements

SALT LAKE CITY (March 26, 2020) – In order to better accommodate social distancing measures that help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Gary R. Herbert has issued an Executive Order suspending certain sections of state statute regarding requirements on signature gathering. 

Specifically, the order suspends the requirement that petition packets be bound prior to circulation and that a circulator personally witness each signature. Accordingly, the following actions are now permitted:

  1. A candidate may send or make available an electronic copy of the signature page of a signature packet to any interested voter. The candidate is not required to furnish a cover page or circulator page to the interested voter.
  2. An interested voter may print and physically sign the signature page.
  3. The interested voter may send the pages back to the candidate via regular mail, fax, or e-mail.
  4. The candidate may assemble any returned signature pages and then submit the signature packet to the election officer in-person or via designated agent. The packet does not require a circulator page.

The governor has issued the following statement: 

“This is a matter of fairness and preserving the integrity of our election process in these unusual times,” Gov. Herbert said. “By easing certain requirements of the signature gathering process, but requiring that signatures be verified by the State after submission, this order strikes the appropriate balance in preserving a signature gathering path to the ballot, even as Utahns follow orders and recommendations regarding social distancing.”

These decisions were made in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and former Lieutenant Governor Gayle McKeachnie, who has been working with the elections office in an advisory capacity since May of 2019. See here for the memo detailing Mr. McKeachnie’s advisory role. Given his status as a gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Governor Spencer J. Cox was not involved in the decision process.

You can view the full order here 

The elections office has also drafted a memo with answers to frequently asked questions. You can view it here 

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