Utah extended its deadline for unaffiliated presidential candidates to get on the state’s ballot, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson announced Thursday.
The decision came after Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an independent presidential candidate, filed a lawsuit against Henderson. The lawsuit claimed Utah’s deadline for candidates to file for ballot access in Utah — Jan. 8, 2024 — was “clearly unconstitutional” and “the earliest deadline on independent presidential candidates in the history of the United States.”
Henderson announced Thursday that candidates would be permitted to file through March 5, 2024, nearly two months after the original deadline.
“This decision has been made in the spirit of affording every reasonable opportunity for unaffiliated presidential candidates to participate in our general election,” Henderson said in a statement. “Key legislators are aware of the potential problems with the current statute. I am confident these issues will be addressed in the upcoming legislative session.”
In order to qualify as an unaffiliated presidential candidate on Utah ballots, candidates must gather 1,000 signatures from registered Utah voters and have the signatures verified by county election clerks. Then they must submit a “2024 Certificate of Nomination for Unaffiliated Candidate” and pay a fee.
Kennedy’s legal counsel, Paul Rossi, celebrated the decision, claiming the early deadline set by the state legislature was an “intentional assault on the constitutional right of Utah voters to cast their vote for Mr. Kennedy in 2024.”
Kennedy seemed to agree. “In a democracy, the people are supposed to decide with their votes who gets into office,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Not state officials who prevent popular candidates from getting on the ballot.”
Last week, Kennedy visited Utah for a rally, gathering several hundred attendees to the Sky SLC nightclub in Salt Lake City.
Cornel West, another independent presidential candidate, visited Salt Lake City last month to gather signatures and rally support.
“Utah is going to be the No. 1 state in my campaign that will put me on the ballot,” West told attendees at a rally at the University of Utah.