Senate Bill 54 was amended and passed unanimously Monday.
The bill promises not to change the state’s caucus convention-system. Grass roots campaigns will remain the same.
The bill is aimed at voters who don’t identify with a specific party.
“The largest single block of voters in the state of Utah are those unaffiliated with any political party,” said State Senator Curt Bramble.
Those voters will get a vote via signatures.
“The thing is not a lot of people feel like they have a voice heard at the state level because they are not represented one way or another. But this provides a mean now for the growing young minority and democratic populations in Utah to get there voice heard,” said voter Patrick Boner.
This is how the alternative method will work.
Candidates running for Governor, US Senate, Treasure, Auditor and Attorney General will have to get 28,000 signatures.
Congressional Districts will have to get 7,000 names.
The State Senate will need 2,000 signatures and State House of Representatives will need 1,000.
Other offices will need 3% of the registered voters in that jurisdiction.
“It's a hybrid and I have great hopes this will effectively increase citizen participation,” says Sen. Bramble.
Some believe that the new alternative opens the door for candidates with deep pockets.
“It probably matters in an election because you can be more, people will be more aware of you. You will be out there because you can pay for TV spots, you can pay for all these big parties where people can come,” says voter Edna Merry Wilcock.
Others believe it opens the doors for a younger generation.
“I think it is a good way for people who aren't really super well known to enter the system and get those signatures so that they can participate, where as with the caucus system and the closed primary with the republicans it's difficult to break in,” says voter Tracy Lewis.
The bill will head to the State House of Representatives for a debate. It is not expected to be contested and should hit the governor’s desk by next week.
Once the bill becomes law it will go into effect January 1st, 2015.
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