Jan Garbett, Candidate for Utah Governor, Files Constitutional Lawsuit
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2020, Salt Lake City, Utah
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jan Garbett has filed a lawsuit demanding that Jan’s name be placed on the ballot in this year’s Republican primary election. The suit details how denying Jan access to the ballot violates her Constitutional rights.
"Utah's signature-gathering requirement is designed to make candidates have face-to-face conversations with voters," explained Garbett. "When a pandemic makes that interaction impossible, then the law simply becomes a way to keep people off the ballot."
“The foremost responsibility of any state government is to defend and preserve democracy through free and fair elections,” Garbett continued. “Our Consitution defends the right of citizens to participate in their government by running for office. It does not allow reluctant officials to shrug their shoulders while a pandemic makes normal elections impossible. Doing otherwise would let the fox guard the henhouse, since elections put their jobs on the line.”
Other states have figured out how to keep people safe and preserve democracy. For example, New York drastically reduced the number of signatures required to get on the primary ballot. Utah’s failure to take similar action places an unreasonable burden on Jan’s right to pursue elected office.
Courts have set a strong precedent of letting candidates onto the ballot when unforseeable circumstances occur. The coronavirus pandemic is one of those circumstances—no one anticipated the coronavirus or its impact on Utah elections.
“If the government orders us to cease campaigning—which I agree was necessary to protect public health—then the government bears the responsibility to reduce the amount of campaigning necessary in a proportional way,” said Dr. Joe Jarvis, Jan’s running mate for Lt. Governor. Dr. Jarvis has repeatedly noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has also altered the circumstances for candidates pursuing the caucus/convention path to nomination. "For conventions, the State has allowed political parties to make drastic changes to the process, yet it has resisted making changes of a similar scope to the signature-gathering path." This unequal treatment is a violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection clause.
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