Court denies GOP’s request to block Count My Vote compromise

A man signs the Count My Vote petition to get the initiative on the 2014 ballot, St. George, Utah, Nov. 30, 2013 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY – Friday, a federal judge denied the Utah Republican Party’s request to block the state’s implementation of Senate Bill 54, which is a compromise between legislators and Count My Vote organizers that was signed into law in 2014.

A press statement issue Friday by the Office of the Attorney General said:

We are pleased that the Court denied the Utah Republican Party’s motion for preliminary injunction, allowing the State to proceed with its continued implementation of SB54.  Senate Bill 54 was designed to increase voter participation, provide better access for candidates and create a more open and democratic process for electing candidates who wish to serve in public office, while recognizing and safeguarding the rights of political parties to speak freely and associate with their members.

Reacting to U.S. District Judge David Nuffer’s decision, Utah Republican Party Chairman James Evans released the following statement Friday:

As Chair of the Utah Republican Party, I look forward to taking our legal challenge through the next phase of the litigation process. Based upon Judge Nuffer’s remarks, the Party is confident that SB54 will be ruled unconstitutional in whole or in part. Judge Nuffer correctly noted that forcing political parties to open their primaries to unaffiliated voters represents ‘forced association.’ Political parties have well-established first amendment rights and the Party is determined to defend ours against encroachment from the state.

“The court’s ruling is preliminary and will likely stay in effect until the resolution of this case,” the press release from the Attorney General’s Office continued. “This case involves difficult and complex legal issues. The State, and its officials greatly appreciate the court’s diligent work and careful analysis. The State of Utah continues to believe that the entirety of Senate Bill 54 is constitutional. We will continue to vigorously defend the law as the case proceeds.”

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