GOP submits Celeste Maloy for ballot amid registration debacle

Jul 6, 2023, 9:07 AM | Updated: Aug 25, 2023, 2:20 pm

Woman in a red shirt, candidate Celeste Maloy...

Utah Congressional 2nd District candidate Celeste Maloy speaks during the Utah Republican Party’s special election at Delta High School in Delta on June 24, 2023. (Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

(Ryan Sun, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s GOP submitted Celeste Maloy as its convention winner officially Wednesday evening, Party Chairman Robert Axson confirms to KSL NewsRadio.

This means she will be placed on the ballot in the special election race for Congress.

It’s a significant step in the ongoing debate over Maloy’s Republican convention win and in the race to replace Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah.

Stewart has announced he will relinquish the seat in September.

Maloy’s registration status — and thus her Republican affiliation — wasn’t up to date on the day she declared her candidacy. She was on a removable voter list, which “has the effect of removing an eligible voter,” the Lt. Gov. clarified for the first time late Friday.

Maloy spoke to KSL NewsRadio on Wednesday about what she believed the day she filed. “I was registered Republican,” she said. “I didn’t know that someone changed me to inactive status without my knowledge.”

State law prohibits candidates from running in a political party of which they’re not a member, unless that party allows otherwise. Utah’s Republican party Constitution does not allow for it.

Maloy’s registration became current three days later, after the filing deadline but before she filed paperwork with the party to go through the convention path.

Maloy tells KSL NewsRadio that in her mind, her registration and affiliation never changed from 2018 when she last voted in Utah.

Utah’s legislature on Maloy’s status

In a joint statement, Utah’s House and Senate now allege that the Lieutenant Governor didn’t follow state law when she certified Maloy’s candidacy.

“The lieutenant governor is obligated to…’ enforce compliance by election officers with all legal requirements relating to elections including…state law relating to elections,” the letter reads.

House Majority leader Mike Schultz tells KSL NewsRadio that he believes the Lt. Gov. should have disqualified Maloy.

“I wish this had been remedied before June 14 [the filing deadline],” he stressed. “But because it wasn’t, the Lieutenant Governor should have disqualified Maloy because the law says she has an obligation to [follow state law].”

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, who oversees state elections, maintains she is only required to “read to the individual” their Congressional and state requirements and “require the individual to state” whether they met those.

Nothing in state law explicitly states her office is required to check a candidate’s registration status.

Schultz argues that it’s common practice for Lt. Gov.’s to do that, and they have historically. He said they are then charged with enforcing what they find.

Whether the legislature will take any action against the Lt. Gov., Schultz didn’t say.

“We haven’t had that conversation,” Schultz said.

The submission of Maloy’s name means the party believes she met their qualifications.

Wednesday evening, the GOP issued a statement.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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GOP submits Celeste Maloy for ballot amid registration debacle