Independent Voter Project

Judge Strikes Down Open Primaries in Utah

U.S. District Judge David Nuffer ruled Wednesday that Utah cannot force political parties to allow non-members (e.g. unaffiliated voters) to participate in “their” primary elections, striking down the open primaries provision in SB54.

“While a state has the authority to regulate elections and even require that political parties hold a primary election … [the] state may not force a political party to allow unaffiliated voters in its primary election,” Nuffer wrote. “Such a requirement is a ‘severe’ burden on the political party’s First Amendment rights because it dilutes the party’s ability to determine its candidates.”

As previously reported on IVN, Nuffer indicated last week that this was how he was going to rule, so the decision didn’t come as much of a surprise.

“The issue concerns the primary system created under SB54, a law that passed in 2014 as a compromise between those who wanted to completely abolish the old closed caucus and convention system (CCS) and those who wanted to open the election process to more voters,” Chad Peace explains.

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