With the election season over but municipal elections on the horizon, if you would like to participate in the next election, you must be registered to vote. But how do you do that? Are you new to the area? Did you move to a new home? If so, you can register online here. But before you do, make sure you’ve met the following qualifications for eligibility under Utah Code Title 20A Chapter 2.
Who is a resident of Utah for voting? You are a Utah resident if your primary residence is in Utah and you intend to maintain your Utah residence permanently or indefinitely. There are caveats for students, military personnel, incarceration, and Indian reservations.
Eligibility. You must be 18, a resident of Utah for 30 days before the election, and a citizen of the United States. To register, you do not formally need a Utah Driver’s license or Utah license plates. However, if anything about your registration is suspicious, the election officials may legally consider those factors in determining your residency.
Under the code, the election official may consider any relevant factors to determine your residency, including your marital status and age, where you sleep, your family’s residence, your employment and income sources, the location of any real property you own, and your purpose of residency (such as tax planning). This list is located in Utah Code 20A-2-105. I recommend reading the entire section.
You can register on voting day – in person. Your vote will be provisional and not counted until your residency is confirmed. However, if you were unable to register beforehand or within the period became a resident, you can go to your polling station and register the day-of.
You can vote if you have a criminal record. In Utah, once you have completed your incarceration and probation, you are automatically reinstated to vote. However, you will still need to make sure you’ve registered to vote.
What elections do you get to participate in? Utah has the following elections: municipal, county, state, and national. Municipal elections for city leadership are held in odd years with the next election in November 2019. County, state, and national elections occur in even years with the next election in November 2020.
Voting in primaries. Primary procedures vary by political party in Utah. To vote in the Republican primary, you must be a registered Republican. If you would like to participate in the Democratic party primary, you can be a registered Democrat or unaffiliated.
Beyond voting, would you like to run for an office in 2019? If so, contact your local municipality or read the legal notices in the paper to find out the deadlines for providing signatures or entering your name on the ballot. Contact the leadership of your political party for county, state, and national positions. Most deadlines to enter the race are in March. If you are a woman considering running, the nonpartisan group, Real Women Run, is a great resource. You can also rely on your political party county and state resources to help you manage your campaign.
Disclaimer. As always, my column is not legal advice, instead merely insight into the law and legal profession. If you have a general question about the law or legal profession, please call 435.610.1431.
Federal and State Judges are selected differently because they have different jurisdictions. In Utah, our state court hierarchy starts with Justice Court and Small Claims Court and ends at the Supreme Court.
Justice Court and Small Claims Court. In this court, the decision-maker is called a Justice. Justices hear cases and enter convictions. Applicants for the Justice position are not required to have a legal education or be a licensed attorney. Justices are initially appointed by either the county commission or city council and retained by appointment or election every six years. You may experience Justice Court if you get a speeding ticket, are charged with possession of an illegal drug, or your dog gets loose. If you have a monetary dispute or unpaid debt, you might get a summons from Small Claims Court. Sevier County has three Justice and Small Claims Courts in Richfield, Salina, and Aurora. Wayne County and Piute County have one Justice Court at the county seat. Garfield County has one court in Panguitch. Criminal court cases decided in Justice Court can be reheard in District Court, without review. Small Claims cases can also be removed to District Court or appealed to District Court.
State Judges for District, Appellate, and Supreme Courts. Unlike other states, Utah judges are selected by committee and not by election. This means the Governor appoints a committee of lawyers and nonlawyers from each judicial district to nominate five potential judges. The nominations are then interviewed by the Governor’s office.
Retention. Three years after the judge or justice is selected, their ability to stay on the bench is up for public vote in the first general election. District and Appellate Judges are up for retention and every six years, after their first vote. Supreme Court Justices are up for retention every ten years after the initial election.
A retention vote means you, the voter, choose if the judge or justice shall be retained. If you like the judge or justice’s actions, you vote “yes” and if you do not, then you vote “no.” If the judge receives more “yes” votes than “no” votes, the justice or judge is retained. If judge receives more “no” votes than “yes” votes, the judge is not retained and the position must be filled through the appointment process.
Who are your judges? What is their legal and professional history? You can find out more about each judge and justice in the Sixth District – including Sevier, Wayne, Piute, and Garfield Counties – by looking up their information online through the Utah Courts website and Judge Bios. If you would like to become a judge but do not have law license or degree, look for the Justice Court and Small Claims openings with the Utah Courts. If you have a legal license, polish your reputation and maintain your integrity so you can be nominated by your local committee.
Disclaimer. As always, my column is not legal advice, instead merely insight into the law and legal profession. If you have a general question about the law or legal profession, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 435.610.1431.
Last time, I wrote an overview of the three branches of government and how a bill becomes a law. This week I’ll explain the administrative state.
Along with Brent Thorne of Richfield Rotary, Megan was interviewed about her new business, the 30th anniversary of Women in Rotary, and moving to the Sevier Valley by KSVC 980 AM, 100.5 FM - The Talk of Mid-Utah.
Listen to the interview here: