Facebook Twitter



You can vote twice come November for attorney general candidate W. Andrew McCullough.

It's not advised you do so, however. Checking McCullough's name twice will invalidate your ballot. It won't be counted.But why is a candidate on the ballot twice for the same office?

Because McCullough and up to five other candidates filed last April under two or more political parties. Under a new opinion by the Utah Attorney General's Office, Lt. Gov. Olene Walker will allow such "fusion" candidates to appear under each party banner, assuming the party ultimately certifies the candidate.

It's the first time anyone can remember in Utah history that a candidate will be on a ballot more than once.

"We think it might be confusing to some people," said Kelleen Potter, state election officer. "There will be instructions on each ballot not to vote twice for these people, warning that doing so will invalidate the whole ballot. But people don't read the instructions, usually."

No statewide, major party candidate will appear twice. Mc-Cul-lough will run under the Libertarian and Independent Patriot parties, for example. And most of the candidates will run in minor third parties.

However, in the upcoming June 25 Republican Party primary in Senate District 27, Will Marshall will be on the ballot with fellow Republican Julie Davis. If Marshall wins that primary, on the November ballot he will be listed twice - once as a Republican and once under the Libertarian Party banner.

Marshall is a longtime Libertarian who switched to the Republican Party this year. District 27 is a southeastern Utah district now held by Sen. Mike Dmitrich, D-Price.

In November's election, Maury Modine will be listed on Senate District 5 ballots both as a Democrat and as a Libertarian.

Because both the Libertarian and Independent Patriot parties have certified McCullough and because attorney general is a statewide office, every ballot in the state will have him listed two times.

Marshall, who lives in Big Water, Kane County, said he sees nothing wrong with running under more than one party banner. It just increases your chances for winning, he said.

"If I'd thought about it a little longer, I'd filed under the Reform Party also. The Republican, Libertarian and Reform parties all stand for limited government and tax reduction and that's where I've always been" politically, said Marshall, a one-time secretary to the Utah Libertarian Party.

It was Utah Libertarians, in fact, who challenged Utah's long-held tradition of candidates only filing under one party. After an informal opinion from the Salt Lake County attorney that candidates for county offices could file under more than one party, Libertarian leaders took the matter to Walker, the state's official election officer. She consulted with Attorney General Jan Graham's office and then decided under Utah law she couldn't deny ballot access to candidates certified by more than one party.

Potter, Walker, county clerks and representatives of some minor parties met last month to discuss how to handle ballot location for multiple party candidates.

"We wanted to list the person's name only one time, but list after the name the different parties," said Potter. That way when a voter punches a ballot, in counties that count ballots by computer, or check a box next to a candidate in the small nine counties that still use paper ballots, there couldn't be a problem of voting for the same person twice.

"But the small parties objected to that," said Potter. Small parties sometimes barely get enough votes for all their candidates to qualify the party for the ballot in the next general election. Under Potter's solution, the parties wouldn't get credit for a vote for a multiple-party candidate.

The small parties "demanded that they get every vote for ballot qualification. So putting the person's name on the ballot under each party was the only way to do that," said Potter.

But, seeing McCullough's or Marshall's or the others' names on the ballot twice may confuse some voters. "My guess is these small parties will lose as many ballots (through invalidation by double voting) as they would have lost through not getting credit for a multiple candidate. But that's the way it is," said Potter.

Forty states allow "fusion" candidates, says Potter. And the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a fusion candidate's case this year. "So we may have some direction on how to handle this," said Potter.

Besides McCullough, Marshall and Modine, Kaylin Robinson, in House District 52, will run in the Libertarian and Natural Law parties.

Ken Larsen, who dresses like Brigham Young for political events, filed for governor under every party. But he was eliminated at the Democratic and Republican conventions and so far, says Potter, no minor party has certified him as their candidate. He could still be certified by the Independent American (not likely, since he was kicked out of that party recently), Reform and U.S. Taxpayers parties.

Chris Shouse was nominated in House District 49 by the Democratic and Libertarian parties, but she's withdrawn her name from the Libertarian Party candidacy and will only appear on the ballot as a Democrat, says Potter.