Form a New Political Party
A group must follow the steps below in order to form a new political party in Utah. Please read our disclaimer before continuing.
Step 1: Determine the Party’s Name & Emblem
Your first step is to determine the party’s name and emblem (or logo). State law limits the names of political parties to a maximum of four words. State law also requires that the name and emblem are distinguishable from those of current political parties in the state. If the lieutenant governor believes that they are not distinguishable, you will be given 7 days to submit a new name and/or emblem. Once the organization is officially a political party, it cannot change its name or emblem during regular (even-year) general election cycles.
Step 2: Gather Petition Signatures
All organizations must gather 2,000 signatures from registered voters in Utah. Signatures must be holographic (physical) signatures, and digital signatures of any kind are not permitted. It is recommended that you collect more than 2,000 signatures because not every signature you collect will be valid.
You must compile petition packets for the petition. Each petition packet contains one cover page, multiple signature pages, and one circulator verification page. Packets must be bound together prior to circulation (typically by spiral binding or three staples across the top), and cannot be taken apart or rearranged once they are bound. Click here to download the petition packet template in Microsoft Word format, or click here for the PDF format.
Petition circulators must be 18 years or older and residents of Utah. If a circulator does not meet these requirements, the signatures they gathered are not valid. A circulator does not need to be registered to vote; however, election officials can easily verify a circulator’s age if they are registered to vote.
Circulators must complete and sign the circulator verification page of every petition packet they use to gather signatures. They cannot sign the signature pages of any petition packets they circulate—they must sign a petition packet of another circulator if they wish to sign the petition. Each petition packet must be used by only one circulator. If you have multiple circulators, they will each need their own packet(s).
You have a certain time frame to gather signatures, and any signatures collected outside of this time frame are invalid. This means that any signatures gathered for the 2018 general election cycle would not be valid for a petition for the 2020 general election cycle. Here are the signature gathering time frames for upcoming election cycles:
- 2020 Election Cycle: November 27, 2018 – December 2, 2019
- 2022 Election Cycle: November 23, 2020 – November 30, 2021
Step 3: Submit Petition Signatures & Party Information
You have until 5:00 pm (Mountain Time) on December 2, 2019 to submit petition signatures to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office for the 2020 election cycle. Please note that no signatures will be verified until you submit 2,000 signatures. After you submit 2,000 signatures, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office will verify the petition signatures within 30 calendar days.
You are encouraged to submit your petition packets earlier than the deadline. This will allow you to gather and submit more signatures if you fail to reach the required number of signatures with your first submission.
In addition to submitting petition signatures, you must also submit the following:
- The contact information for a designated liaison between the political party and the Lieutenant Governor’s Office;
- The identify of one or more registered political parties whose members may vote in the party’s primary elections;
- Whether unaffiliated voters may vote in the party’s primary election;
- Whether the organization intends to be a Qualified Political Party (QPP) or a Registered Political Party (RPP) for the upcoming regular general election cycle; and
- Copies of the party’s proposed bylaws and constitution.
A Qualified Political Party is a political party that meets the requirements of Utah Code 20A-9-406. In short, a Qualified Political Party allows its candidates to pursue the party’s nomination by going through the party’s convention system and/or by gathering petition signatures. Conversely, a Registered Political Party’s candidates can pursue the party’s nomination only by gathering petition signatures.
Step 4: Submit Names of Party Officers, Constitution, & Bylaws
Once the petition has been verified, you have until 5:00 pm (Mountain Time) on March 2, 2020 to submit the political party’s official constitution, official bylaws, and the names and contact information of party officers. Refer to Utah Code 20A-8-401(2) for a list of provisions that the party’s constitution or bylaws must contain.
Please note that any changes to the party’s liaison or party officers must be reported to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office within 7 calendar days. Any changes to the bylaws or constitution must be reported within 14 calendar days.
Step 5: Certification
After the reviewing the information and determining that all proper procedures have been completed, the Lieutenant Governor’s Office will issue a certificate naming the organization as a registered political party in Utah. Once the party is certified, it is subject to all rights and regulations of political parties. This includes financial disclosure requirements (click here for more information). The party can also receive contributions from the Election Campaign Fund, which is funded by contributions from Utah taxpayers on their state tax forms. Please contact the State Treasurer’s Office (801-538-1042) for more information.
Maintaining Registered Political Party Status
In order to maintain its status as a registered political party, an organization must participate in a regular general election and at least one of its candidates must receive votes equal to or greater than 2% of the total votes cast for all candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. Take the 2016 election for an example: at least one political party candidate needed 22,284 votes (2% of 1,114,170 total votes for U.S. House candidates) for the political party to maintain its registered status. Please note that one candidate must reach this threshold; combining votes from multiple candidates to reach the threshold is not permitted.
If a political party fails to meet these requirements in an election, it must meet these requirements for the upcoming election or it will lose its registered political party status. The organization would have to follow the steps to become a registered political party again.