Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb: Will attempts to increase Utah caucus attendance succeed?

Published: Sunday, Feb. 19 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

Webb: That is clearly the hope of many people who support the current system but are a bit chagrined that it is dominated by the right wing/left wing of the political parties. They don't like being labeled as extremists and don't like the system being blamed for Utah's embarrassingly low voting rates.

However, even if attendance numbers increase dramatically, as I hope they will, if you are away on business, if you are serving in the military, if you are on a church mission, if you can't get a babysitter, or if you are disabled and can't get into a home with steps, you just can't participate.

In primary and general elections, we encourage and allow everyone to participate. You can vote early, use absentee ballots, or vote by mail. But in this election, which in many cases is the most important election of all, if you can't be there in person and devote several hours, you're out of luck. You are disenfranchised. You have no say in who represents you.

Pignanelli: Often times, after a moderate and sensible Utahn attends his/her precinct caucus, the general result is the following: "It's always enjoyable to see the neighbors. I just didn't know some of them were such wackos." Conversely, even the most bland of precinct caucuses deliberations can raise concerns in the selection of the delegate. The more Utahns experience the strangeness of the system, the louder the calls will be for reform.

Republican LaVarr Webb is a political consultant and lobbyist. Previously he was policy deputy to Gov. Mike Leavitt and Deseret News managing editor. Email: lwebb@exoro.com. Democrat Frank Pignanelli is a Salt Lake attorney, lobbyist and political adviser. Pignanelli served 10 years in the Utah House of Representatives, six years as minority leader. His spouse, D'Arcy Dixon Pignanelli, is a state tax commissioner. Email: frankp@xmission.com.

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