Caucus meetings this week give public a chance to get involved
“We really felt that Count My Vote was addressing a problem with extremes in the Republican caucus and the Republican Party,” Lyon said.
The state's Democratic caucus meetings are open to all voters, affiliated or not. He sees the neighborhood meetings as a way for people to become involved, get to know their neighbors and to meet local candidates.
"Just come and listen. There's no blood oath. You don't have to sign anything," he said.
A process that would further open the primary system gives people a chance to learn more about both political parties and make educated decisions, he said.
One man sees the potential change in caucus meetings as problematic. James Humphreys said the current caucus-convention system gives a voice to the voiceless and allows someone like him, a media and public relations chair of Protect our Neighborhoods, to get on the ballot.
With caucus meetings, candidates are required to reach out to those living in remote communities in order to secure their vote in the party convention, he said. Gathering signatures, on the other hand, only requires name recognition.
His current bid for Weber County Commissioner is only possible because of the caucus-convention system, he said. He would not have the influence to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot otherwise.
“The fact that I have good idea or passion or drive are irrelevant. I am stymied before I get out of the gate because I do not have money or fame,” he said.
Unaffiliated voters should find out which party they identify with most and join, even if they don't agree with everything, he said. He cited his own experience as an openly gay man who is a registered Republican to underscore his point. Humphries said he is concerned the new system will encourage more people to vote without being informed.
“I’m worried about the trend that says all you have to do is vote,” he said.
Bennett said he thinks the compromise will have the opposite effect.
“It opens the system up and will provide more interest in the election. Because in a one-party state like Utah we’ve seen people say, 'It doesn’t matter if I vote.'”
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