The Utah Senate unanimously passed Tuesday one of the first bills to address issues arising from the scandal engulfing former Attorney General John Swallow.
SB11 ensures that state officials accused of election wrongdoing are not assigned to handle or investigate claims against themselves. Last year, the Legislature rushed through similar legislation dealing with the attorney general when it appeared he could be asked to investigate himself.
"It was realized that there were [potential] conflicts with other statewide officials as well," said Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem. The new bill spells out how such conflicts would be handled, and to whom probes would be referred in such cases.
The bill would also make it more difficult for the lieutenant governor to invalidate an election, which is now the only remedy available for election violations. It would require the lieutenant governor to show the violation likely changed the outcome of the election to void the contest.
"It's really nice we've never had a need for this before," Dayton said.
The bill now goes to the House.