KSL INVESTIGATES

KSL Investigates: Thousands of candidate signatures tossed

Apr 10, 2020, 10:57 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2023, 3:26 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Many Utah candidates are seeking to be on the primary ballot in June by gathering signatures, rather than hoping for their party’s endorsement at conventions later this month.

But the KSL Investigators uncovered thousands of those signatures have been tossed out, deemed invalid by the Utah Elections Office.

‘I’m Willing To Go Out And Get Him On The Ballot’

When Kim Pickett of Sanpete County heard Jon Huntsman, Jr. was running for governor, he got to work gathering signatures to help Huntsman qualify for the June primary Republican ballot.

“I really think he’s the most qualified candidate we have,” he said.

Pickett gathered 40 signatures from friends and family and turned them into the Utah Elections office for the Huntsman campaign. Several came back as invalid. One was his son, and it was deemed his signature didn’t match what was on file.

“They also said that my daughter wasn’t a registered voter,” said Pickett.

But Pickett was adamant both signatures were valid and signed by his children, and both are registered voters. Then Pickett started hearing from other Huntsman supporters that they were also experiencing invalid signatures. Pickett asked KSL Investigators to check it out.

Tens of Thousands Of Invalid Signatures

We reached out to the Huntsman campaign through campaign manager Lisa Roskelley to confirm what Pickett was experiencing.

“Just under 18,000 have been invalidated,” said Roskelley. “It’s frustrating.”

Roskelley said 45,000 signatures were turned into the elections office, but so many were declared invalid, the state told her they needed even more to reach the required 28,000 needed for the ballot.

Other gubernatorial campaigns experienced similar issues. Justin Lee, director of Utah Elections, said of the three gubernatorial candidates who have submitted signatures, 77,622 of those signatures were ruled valid. But an additional 38,878 were deemed no good.

Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox’s campaign told us they submitted “38,862 signatures of which 10,836 or 28% were deemed invalid.”

Thomas Wright’s campaign said 5,555 of the signatures they gathered were tossed. Nearly half (2,041) were invalidated because the “signer is not affiliated with the Republican party.”

Not being affiliated with the Republican party was the main reason the Huntsman campaign also lost out on about 8,000 signatures. But there were other problems the campaign saw.

“I have one person who [registered to vote] in February. And then when she got her voter ID card back finally, just last week, it shows that February 24 was the date that registration was effective,” said Roskelley. “It wasn’t processed until March 30. And so, her signature was evaluated by the elections office in the middle of that, and so she was marked as an invalid signature because she wasn’t a registered Republican at the time.”

According to the Utah Elections Office, of the three candidates who’ve turned in signatures for the governor’s race, nearly 39,000 signatures have been invalid.

Why Are These Signatures Invalid?

Part of the problem with invalid signatures lies with Super Tuesday.

“The presidential primary kind of added a whole overlay of dates and deadlines that we normally wouldn’t be dealing with a petition,” said Lee.

Lee explained that with a presidential primary, a certain law comes into play.

“Starting 30 days before a presidential primary, you can’t change your party affiliation.”

This meant that for 30 days before the March 3 election day, anyone who tried to change their affiliation and signed a candidate petition would have that signature tossed.

Additionally, Lee said for about two weeks after Super Tuesday, election offices across Utah were busy counting provisional votes and other required time-sensitive duties. So even if some registered to vote after Super Tuesday or changed their party affiliation, in certain cases those were not processed for weeks.

Some other reasons Lee cited for why signatures would be deemed invalid include:

  • Signing for more than one candidate per office
  • Signature does not match the signature on record
  • Writing or signature is illegible
  • Signed the same petition more than once

“We know voters do sign for multiple candidates, so we can only count the first one that was turned in,” said Lee.

Ultimately, this is Utah law and would take an act of the Utah State Legislature to allow voters to sign multiple candidate petitions to appear on the primary ballot.

Conflict Of Interest?

So far, three gubernatorial candidates have turned signatures. The elections office will not take signatures until candidates have amassed the minimum for the office. Gubernatorial candidates need 28,000 before they can submit.

Two Republican candidates have so far had enough signatures verified to qualify for the primary ballot: Wright and Cox. Cox’s office oversees Utah elections.

Lee insisted there is no conflict of interest in this year’s race for governor because of changes made four years ago.

“We’ve got a contract with Davis County, and we actually, through them, hire their temporary workers to validate these,” said Lee.

The change happened in 2016 and is how the elections office has been operating ever since.

“We didn’t have space in our office to run through hundreds of thousands of signatures,” said Lee. “It allowed us to have a place with people who are already familiar with elections who process by-mail ballots and were used to verifying signatures. We didn’t have to do a new process just because Lt. Governor Cox is running — we already had that in place.”

Politicking In A Pandemic Takes Its Toll

Many campaigns KSL Investigators spoke with indicated the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult and even impossible to continue their campaigns as normal, despite Governor Gary Herbert loosening rules on signature gathering.

“We had just under 20,000 [signatures] when we had to shut down because of the virus,” said Republican candidate Jan Garbett. “We would have easily finished if it had not been for this virus and the impossibility of reaching out to people at their front door”

Republican Jeff Burningham also suspended door-to-door canvassing and other public events, and “since then the campaign has been focused on Republican delegates and securing a spot on the primary ballot through the April 25 Republican convention.”

His campaign had not submitted any signatures as of Friday.

Democrat Chris Peterson is another candidate going the convention route, saying “we believe this path makes strategic sense for our campaign and will put us in the strongest position to compete with the eventual Republican nominee.”

Democrat Zachary Moses voiced frustration that the digital signature gathering allowed by the governor was still inhibitive.

“It is only allowed under awkward situations,” said Moses. “For instance, requiring the person to print the whole signature page, sign it, scan it and send it back for re-printing. This is such a waste of resources and time. It is a thoroughly difficult process; especially as so few people have printers at home.”

If you’d like to see the progress of any Utah candidate and their signature-gathering petitions, click here. The deadline for submission of signatures for candidates is Monday, April 13, at 5:00 p.m.


Related Stories

KSL Investigates: Exclusive Interview With Utah’s Coronavirus Task Force Chief

Utah Announces 4 New COVID-19 Deaths, Confirmed Cases Over 2,100

Utah Governor Extends ‘Stay Safe, Stay Home’ Directive Through April

KSL Investigates Utah’s Ability To Handle Coronavirus Outbreak


Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.


Coronavirus Resources

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

How To Get Help

If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.

Additional Resources

If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at consumerprotection@utah.gov.

KSL Investigates

Harold Clements is one of many T-Mobile customers who say they were told upon signing up for servic...

Matt Gephardt

Get Gephardt: Roy man says mobile carrier has hiked his rate in spite of ‘price-lock’ guarantee

A Roy man is one of many T-Mobile customers who say they were told upon signing up for service that their phone rates would not go up. Ever. But when the rates did go up, Harold Clements decided to turn to KSL Investigators for help.

5 days ago

Jordan Lee says about a half-dozen medical test results suddenly have appeared on his patient accou...

Matt Gepahrdt and Sloan Schrage

Get Gephardt helps Utahn billed thousands for medical tests he says he never got

When a West Point man discovered he was on the hook for charges for medical tests he never got, he decided to turn to KSL Investigators for help.

6 days ago

With Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt both convicted of child abuse and serving prison sentences, K...

Daniella Rivera

Kevin Franke calls for child welfare reform after YouTube mom sent to prison for child abuse

With Ruby Franke and Jodi Hildebrandt both convicted of child abuse and serving prison sentences, Kevin Franke is breaking his silence in an attempt to help protect other families.

6 days ago

Judge Keith Barnes addressing Mia Bailey about her charges....

Garna Mejia, KSL TV, and Daniella Rivera, KSL Investigates

New details emerge about protective order against Mia Bailey, accused of murdering her parents in St. George

KSL's Investigators have obtained exclusive new details on a protective order filed against Mia Bailey, the 28-year-old accused of murdering her parents last month in St. George.

6 days ago

FILE - Vehicles move along Interstate 76 ahead in Philadelphia, Nov. 22, 2023. The energy used by c...

Matt Gephardt

Rising costs of insurance and other travel expenses has majority of drivers reconsidering summer travel plans

It's Summer road trip time, which this year is more expensive for drivers than it has been in the past.

12 days ago

The odds are nearly one-out-of-two that a homebuyer will have at least one regret about their purch...

Matt Gephardt and Sloan Schrage

Half of homebuyers experience remorse. Here’s how to help avoid regrets about your new home

The odds are nearly one-out-of-two that a homebuyer will have at least one regret about their purchase, that's according to a new study by Bankrate. Gephardt finds out how you can avoid homebuyers remorse.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

KSL Investigates: Thousands of candidate signatures tossed