Midterm Election Recap 2018
According to the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, more than 760,000 mail-in ballots were submitted this election and voter turnout was roughly 75.55% which is unheard of for a nonpresidential election. Record breaking voter turnout can be attributed to the four propositions and three Constitutional Amendments on this year’s ballot but Proposition 2 the initiative to legalize medical marijuana was the most popular item pushing people to the polls. Prop 2 received the highest total vote count of all races. Voter turnout hit 82 percent in 2016, the last presidential election year, when a record 1.15 million votes were cast. This year, nearly 1.1 million Utahns voted, the second-highest number ever. Voter turnout was the most for a midterm election since 1962.
- Nonbinding Opinion Question 1 – Potential Gas Tax for Public Education (did not pass) – This ballot question was the result of an agreement that was made between the legislature and the Our Schools Now group that had collected signatures in hopes of boosting education funding by $700 million. At the end of the legislative session the groups settled on a property tax bill that allocated $200 million for education and this nonbinding opinion question that was supposed to bring in another $100 million. If it had passed the legislature would have had to enact additional legislation upping the gas tax by .10 cents per gallon. This ballot question never really gained the traction it needed once the deal was made and the connection between a tax on gasoline for education was never really accepted by voters.
- Proposition 2 – Medical Cannabis (passed) – This proposition is the most controversial of the bunch and was responsible for drawing out individuals that usually do not vote. It began as a signature gathering effort by individuals supporting medical cannabis and the legislature’s inability to pass legislation helping patients gain access. As the process advanced, the legislature, the LDS Church, and the cannabis supporters all saw polling numbers supporting the fact that Prop 2 would likely pass. Private negotiations began, and an agreement was struck that regardless of Prop 2s passage, the legislature would enact legislation that everyone could agree with both giving patients access and also providing proper regulation. The legislature is meeting Monday December 3rd to revise the proposition.
- Proposition 3 – Medicaid Expansion (passed) – This was another bill full of controversy because of the perception that the legislature should have enacted it sooner. Many lawmakers believe full expansion of Medicaid could overwhelm the state’s budget and require cuts in other spending areas. Some legislators had voiced their intent to repeal Prop 3 regardless of it’s passing. Its enactment increases sales tax by .015% to generate roughly $90 million in state revenue for individuals needing coverage. This is combined with $800 million the federal government already pays to Utahn’s.
- Proposition 4 – Creation of an Independent Redistricting Commission (passed) – This proposition was sought by citizens to end gerrymandering in Utah by creating an independent commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders to draw Utah’s congressional and legislative district boundaries after the census takes place every 10 years. The legislature can reject the recommendations, but voters may be angry about their decision to do so.
- Constitutional Amendment A – Modifies Amount of Time for Active Military Members Serving Out of State to Qualify for Property Tax Exemption (passed) – This amendment made it easier for active duty military members to qualify for property tax exemption by changing the language to allow for service members to receive the exemption if they were gone for at least 200 days in a continuous 365 day period where before it was a calendar year and some individuals were missing out on the exemption.
- Constitutional Amendment B – Tax Exemption for Property Leased by Government Entity (did not pass) – This amendment attempted to authorize the creation of a property tax exemption for buildings or land that the state or local governments leased from private individuals. This was not accepted by voters as the numbers obviously illustrate. Supporters say that the state essentially pays itself a tax. Naysayers argue that this is just another tax cut for property owners and it will need to be made up by other taxes.
- Constitutional Amendment C – Allows Legislature to Convene Special Sessions (passed) – This amendment is a balance of power issue between the legislature and the executive branches of government. Now that it has passed it will be viewed as a victory for Utah’s lawmakers. It gives the legislature the ability to call themselves into special session where before it was solely up to the governor to call a special session. Special session can be called for fiscal crisis, war, natural disaster, or emergencies.
County Election Results (Click here to view your county’s results)
County incumbents won a majority of their races with the major exception being Salt Lake County. GOP candidates had a difficult time holding their offices and Salt Lake Democrats came out victors in many difficult races. UAC invited 64 newly elected officials to our training in St. George. Congratulations to all of our newly elected county elected officials!
Congressional Election Results (Click here to view results)
US Senate – ✔Mitt Romney (R) 62% – Jenny Wilson (D) 31%
US House District 1 – ✔Rob Bishop (R) 62% – Lee Castillo (D) 24%
US House District 2 – ✔Chris Stewart (R) 56% – Shireen Ghorbani (D) 39%
US House District 3 – ✔John Curtis (R) 66% – James Courage Singer (D) 28%
US House District 4 – Mia Love (R) 49.87% – ✔Ben McAdams (D) 50.13%
The 4th Congressional District race between now outgoing Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, and Rep. elect Ben McAdams, a Democrat was very competitive and heated at times. McAdams beat Love in her try for a third term by just 694 votes in the district that includes portions of Salt Lake and Utah counties as well as Sanpete and Juab counties.
Utah State Senate (Click here to view results)
Senate seats for the most part were won by familiar names like Evan Vickers, Stuart Adams, Jerry Stevenson, Dan Thatcher, Karen Mayne, Jani Iwamoto, Gene Davis, and Ann Millner who all won pretty convincingly. Dan McCay and Scott Sandall made the jump from the House to the Senate. Democrat Kathleen Riebe beat out Brian Zehnder in the Senate District 8 seat.
Utah State House (Click here to view results)
House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, was elected House Speaker. Rep. Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, was elected Majority Leader; Rep. Mike Schultz, R-Hooper is Majority Whip and Rep. Val Peterson, R-Orem, was elected Assistant Whip. Rep. Wilson will replace House Speaker Greg Hughes, who is retiring from the legislature.
In the Senate, Majority Whip J. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, was elected Senate President. Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, was elected Majority Leader; Sen. Dan Hemmert, R-Orem, is Majority Whip and Sen. Ann Millner, R-Ogden, was elected Assistant Majority Whip.