SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert warned lawmakers Wednesday he may veto a bill aimed at the Count My Vote initiative that would allow voters to switch the state to direct primary elections.
"I respect the people and their desire to have an initiative petition and say we want something different. Let the process play out without any kind of games," the governor said during the taping of his monthly news conference on KUED Channel 7.
The bill, SB54, would allow political parties to avoid the direct primaries called for in the Count My Vote initiative by adopting some changes to the state's unique caucus and convention system for nominating candidates.
The governor expressed concern about the Legislature dictating to both voters and political parties. Voters will perceive lawmakers as "gaming the system to thwart the will of the people," he said.
"My counsel to the Legislature is to be careful and to be cautious when it comes to this issue because it could backfire in many ways," Herbert said, calling a veto "a possibility."
If supporters of Count My Vote collect more than 100,000 signatures by mid-April, voters will decide in November whether to move to direct primary elections. Herbert said he favors the current caucus and convention system.
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, the sponsor of SB54, shrugged off the possibility of a veto.
"It's part of the process," Bramble said. "It takes 38 (votes), 15 and one (to stop a bill in the House, Senate and governor's office), and the governor is part of the process."
There's ample time to talk to Herbert about the bill, Bramble said.
"We're in the top of the second inning right now on this bill," he said.
Bramble said he's not concerned about any public backlash that might result from the perception that the bill cuts off the citizen initiative process.
"To say it's pre-empting anything is premature," he said. "I think it's too early to tell. The public hasn't voted on it yet."
Contributing: Dennis Romboy
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