Judge limits Utah GOP’s digging into ‘Count My Vote’ compromise law

Posted at 12:49 PM, Apr 23, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-23 14:49:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal magistrate judge has limited how far the Utah Republican Party can dig in its lawsuit over the so-called “Count My Vote compromise” law.

In an order issued late Wednesday, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead declared the Utah GOP “may not compel testimony or documents regarding the purpose or intent of (Senate Bill) 54, and may not elicit testimony related to the purpose or intent of SB54.”

Lawyers for the party have sought to get more insight into how SB54 came about, and recently asked to depose the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, and Governor Gary Herbert. Judge Pead’s ruling did not directly address those efforts, but appeared to block those options.

Read the judge’s ruling here:

SB54 came about as a compromise between lawmakers and backers of Count My Vote, a ballot signature drive that sought to do away with the caucus and convention system utilized by the Utah Republican Party. The law, signed by Governor Herbert, allows for candidates to get on the ballot if they gather enough signatures — skipping the caucus/convention system.

The Utah GOP is suing the state over SB54, arguing it infringes on their First Amendment right to free association. A federal judge recently refused to block the law from going into effect. The Utah GOP has claimed that it would be difficult — if not impossible — to implement SB54’s provisions. In court filings, they have suggested the Republican party may be off the 2016 ballot and it could “destroy” the party itself.