SALT LAKE CITY -- A bill being debated in the Senate would remove an existing sunset clause on the ability of unaffiliated voters to potentially vote in a Republican primary.
The measure, HB 262, cleared the Senate's second reading calendar Thursday and will now advance for a final vote, possibly as early as today.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said the ability of unaffiliated voters to register and then vote in a GOP primary was first introduced 10 years ago, with a five-year sunset clause. That clause was renewed for another five years and runs out in June. The bill would permanently remove the sunset provision.
The Republican Primary is a closed primary in Utah, and only registered members of the party can vote, whereas the Democratic Party holds an open primary, where voters of any party can vote.
Asked by the media why the GOP didn't simply move to an open primary in the Beehive State, Weiler was quick to respond.
"I would like to vote for the next pope of the Catholic Church, but I can't because I'm Mormon. There's something to be said for letting the party pick their own candidates. Republicans have decided to close their primary," Weiler said. He is a former vice chairman of the state GOP.