Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Richard Davis, of the United Utah Party, talks with members of the Deseret News and KSL editorial boards in Salt Lake City on Monday, July 31, 2017.
One of the most fundamental traits of a representative democracy is a process of free and fair elections that offers a level playing field for all candidates and parties. Americans continually see examples in other nations of rigged elections, manipulation of election data or the imposition of high barriers for opposition parties and candidates. In the United States, our political philosophy of fairness rejects tactics. But we need to do more to maintain a free and fair electoral process, particularly in Utah.
A case in point is the experience of the United Utah Party in attempting to certify as a party and field a candidate for the 3rd Congressional District election. The governor and lieutenant governor, through the state elections office, tried their best to keep the United Utah Party and its candidate off the ballot. They created a process that cut out new parties. When a new party formed anyway, they delayed our certification and used taxpayer money to block competition from our party.
In ruling that the state elections office was wrong in denying our candidate, Jim Bennett, a place on the ballot, judge David Nuffer pointed out the steps that office had taken to stifle competition. That’s why he ruled against them and for the United Utah Party and our candidate, Bennett. The judge noted the problems with Utah’s partisan election process:
“The Republican Party has been particularly dominant in Utah’s Third Congressional District elections. The Lt. Governor, Governor Herbert, and resigned Representative Chaffetz are all Republicans. In a state that elected Republican candidates for federal office across the board in the 2016 elections, the Third Congressional District stands out for electing Representative Chaffetz at 73.5 percent, a higher percentage than any other race in the state. These facts suggest careful examination of the one-party control of this special election process, from resignation to the Governor’s writ of election and proclamation through the…