The new Utah state flag has been a topic of discussion among residents since its unveiling almost a year ago. A recent poll conducted by the Deseret News and Hinckley Institute of Politics revealed a mixed response from Utah voters. While 41% of respondents support the new flag, 37% oppose it, and 22% were unsure. The poll results indicate a divided opinion among Utah citizens.
The New Design and Public Opinion
The new flag design, featuring a Beehive above a white star against a blue, red, and white mountain backdrop, was chosen from nearly 7,000 submissions by the public in November 2022. Senator Daniel McCay sponsored SB31, State Flag Amendments, which describes the design of the new flag and allows for the historic state flag to be flown alongside it. McCay believes the poll results are typical and expects opposition to decline over time as the new flag becomes more familiar.
McCay aimed to find a middle ground between those who supported the old flag and those who wanted a more modern design. He stated, “We came up with the compromise of keeping both state flags for a reason. And the poll results kind of support that, there’s a portion of the population that wants to keep our existing flag. Most folks are grateful we still have two flags.”
Controversy Surrounding the New Flag
Despite Senator McCay’s efforts, the new flag design is not without controversy. Opponents argue that the flag erases Utah’s history and was a waste of lawmakers’ time and taxpayer money. Some critics, like Chad Saunders with Restore Utah’s Flag, claim that special interests influenced the decision-making process, leaving the public with a design they did not want.
Saunders believes that Utah is more of a “special interest state” rather than a red state, indicating that legislators are more responsive to special interests than to the will of the people. In response, Restore Utah’s Flag filed a statewide initiative to collect signatures and put the issue on the ballot, giving voters a chance to repeal the new design. The initiative currently has 47,156 signees, but it needs 134,298 signatures to reach the ballot.
Declining Support and Uncertainty
Compared to a previous poll conducted in March, the recent results indicate a slight drop in support for the new flag. In the earlier poll, 48% supported it, 35% opposed it, and 17% were unsure. Chad Saunders argues that the significant number of respondents who remain unsure denotes a problematic process and suggests that lawmakers did not effectively communicate the change to the public.
Finding a Resolution
Senator McCay admitted that the legislature may need to revisit the issue during the next session, which would require more time, effort, and resources. Despite the ongoing controversy, Senator McCay encourages residents to fly either flag or both as a display of Utah pride. He believes that regardless of personal preferences, showing unity for the state is essential.