Count My Vote initiative expected to go forward even if lawmakers approve reforms
Evans said the caucus system does not work against women, pointing out the majority of Democratic lawmakers are female. He said he's not worried about Utah's low voter turnout since the state is dominated by one party — the GOP.
The Republican Party leader said Count My Vote would create barriers for candidates, including requiring GOP contenders to gather thousands of signatures in some races to qualify for a place on the primary ballot.
Money was also an issue raised by the opponents. Evans noted that Count My Vote has raised around nine times as much money as Protect Our Neighborhood Elections, the group formed to counter the initiative.
"That's one of the fundamental concerns of a primary system," Evans said, warning that candidates under a direct primary system will have to worry about whether they can raise enough money to reach voters.
Webb said the number of signatures required is not onerous. He also said the current system can be expensive for candidates, citing Sen. Orrin Hatch's $5 million campaign in 2012 to defeat fellow GOP challenger Dan Liljenquist.
"Big money talks," Webb said.
He said the current system results in many candidates winning the GOP nomination at a party convention. Because so few general election races are competitive, Webb said that leaves little incentive to vote.
To qualify for this November's ballot, Count My Vote needs to collect more than 100,000 voter signatures in 26 of Utah's 29 state Senate districts before April 15. The initiative would then need voter approval to take effect.
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