SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – As part of Salt Lake's new City Opinion Question process, city voters signed, licked, stamped, and mailed almost 20,000 ballots by the September 26th deadline. By an 8-1 margin, they said they wanted to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling by amending the US Constitution.
Despite the obstacles (it's an unusual process occurring at an irregular time, requiring the purchase of a stamp), the voter participation rate of 24.5% exceeded the 23% participation rate of the city mayoral race of 2011. With 88% voting in favor, Move to Amend Salt Lake (MTASL)’s initiative far surpassed the symbolic 2/3rds threshold required by Congress to move any amendment forward for ratification by the states.
This day constitutes a tremendous victory for MTASL, whose 2012 citizens ballot initiative was at first successfully certified by the County Clerk, then abruptly halted by Salt Lake City due to the vagaries of state election law. Working constructively with the City Council, the City Opinion Question process was enacted last October to provide an alternative means of gauging official public sentiments. Following a volunteer-powered door-to-door campaign in each council district promoting the new process and MTASL’s issue, the City has now joined a growing number of municipalities and states across the country declaring that corporations are not people, and money is not the same as speech.
“We're starting at the grassroots level in our local communities,” said Ashley Sanders, co-founder of Move to Amend Salt Lake, “using ballot initiatives to ask regular people if they think corporations have too much power and if we should amend the constitution.” Sanders added, ”That allows us to organize, educate, and talk to people, using the power we've built to drive an amendment into what is essentially a corporate-occupied Congress.