“The [Sept. 2] deadline came and went and the required number of signatures was not turned in,” Grand County Clerk Diana Carroll told The Times-Independent on Sept. 4.
Chris Baird, a candidate for Grand County Council who drafted the petition, told The Times-Independent on Sept. 2 that the “legal deadline” for turning in signed petitions was Sept. 20, based on the deadlines listed in documents that created Grand County’s current form of government in the early 1990s. However, Carroll said the Sept. 2 deadline is set by Utah election law.
“I have to comply with state code, and the Lt. Governor’s office is making sure we are,” she said.
Mark Thomas, director of elections for the Utah Lt. Governor’s office, said Sept. 4 that Carroll had discussed the issue with him over a period of several months, after Baird first talked with her about a possible recall effort.
Thomas said federal law requires that ballots must be mailed to overseas voters, including those serving in the U.S. military, 45 days prior to the election date. With the general election set for Nov. 4, that means those ballots must be mailed by Sept. 20, he said, adding that he informed Carroll that Grand County must meet that deadline. To do so, all ballot measures had to be submitted by Sept. 2, he said.
“I advised her to inform the sponsors [of the recall petition] that all ballot issues have to be ready 65 days ahead of the election,” Thomas said. “The county clerk needs to follow state statute.”
Thomas said Grand County election ordinance is “outdated” and the county needs to bring it into compliance with state and federal law.
This week, Baird issued a statement acknowledging that the recall petition effort was unsuccessful. However, he said he feels the effort had made a difference.
“By Sept. 2, I believe that there were around 400 signatures. I realized that state and federal law may take precedent over our local plan for government,” Baird said in an email to The Times-Independent. “I don’t believe that people signed the petition in order to punish Mr. Jackson. I think they signed the petition because they wanted to make it known that they disapproved of Mr. Jackson’s style of governance. I have seen changes in the way Mr. Jackson operates, and I appreciate those changes. At this point we likely have around 500 signatures. I think the message has been delivered, and I appreciate the recent changes I’ve seen in how Mr. Jackson conducts the public’s business.”
Jackson declined to respond to Baird’s statement.
“I’m just going to stay on the high road there, and I’m just glad it’s over,” Jackson said Sept. 10.