Comments about ‘Robert Bennett: Considerations on 'Count My Vote'’

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Published: Monday, Sept. 23 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

1930's? Mr. Bennett, can I re-remind you of history.

At only one time for 10 years in Utah’s history did the state depart from the Neighborhood Election, Caucus and Convention System. In 1937, a powerful democratic state senator convinced enough of the legislature to switch to an open primary. He had had two losses, a US Senate race and also for governor, because the majority of the convention delegates disagreed with his legislative voting record. But he was well known and had money.

Many at the time felt like an open primary was his ticket to the governorship, and he did win. But the change in the system only lasted for a decade. After public and media disillusionment, and even worse voter turnout, Utah restored the Caucus and Convention System. Why go back?

We already have a "bypass" system, filing as an unaffiliated candidate. A candidate can go straight to the general election ballot. Someone who doesn't think they can win if vetted by average citizens asking one on one questions can still run and spend their money. Why should they be a political party nominee if they are going to bypass their political party?

Salt Lake City, UT

Our current problem with voter turnout is it has not kept up with the population increases. The voter turnout keeps going up but not as fast as the population. Some of that is the younger voters, where Utah has a larger percentage of them and they aren't, as a group, as involved. We need to educate those moving in and not understanding our system.

Many citizens who attend their neighborhood elections and caucus meeting become interested in politics and get involved in their communities, the state and the nation. They meet and help candidates become elected. Some then later become candidates. This should be encouraged through education.

The system and the experience attending the meetings can always be improved, but the “Count My Vote” initiative isn't the way to do it. Any changes to the system the political parties use to determine their nominees should be determined by the political parties.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Why change from a Democratic Republic to a pure democracy? If a pure democracy were the best form of government, don't you think that we would have a pure democracy in America? Why have 435 members of the House to represent the people, when we could all turn on our iPhones and vote directly on every bill?

Why indeed!

If Americans are too lazy to attend a two-hour caucus, they are certainly too lazy to study the candidates before voting. They're going to vote for whichever candidate gets their attention, because that will be the only candidate that they've even heard about.

Republicans in each precinct meet together to choose delegates to "vet" the candidates. Those delegates are charged with listening to the precinct members and to evaluate each candidate. They vote on candidates in the nominating convention. They keep voting until the field has been reduced to two candidates, unless one receives enough votes to run unopposed.

Naysayers want to be assured that they will be on the primary ballot. They want to guarantee their FUNDERS that they will be voted on. Elected officials do not represent the FUNDERS.

Salt Lake City, UT

Mike Richards,
I would like to have 250,000 attend their neighborhood elections in 2014 and 500,000 attend in 2016. We need to fix sign in to even allow that many to show up. If the 120,000 that came last time know we have fixed it so the meeting is less than 2 hrs and doesn't go to 12:30am, and the voting elimination system works for the size of the meeting, then we will likely get them back.

We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, the wealthy or the famous. This is a good thing, and should be preserved.

We want neighbors discussing the best candidates and finding ways to improve this state and
the nation. If the system is changed, we would be dropping off votes, but not meeting and
discussing candidates and issues. That is what is wrong with Washington, D.C. They don’t listen to each other in a meeting. They watch from their offices. We need to change that, not perpetuate it.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

In the last caucus, when delegates were nominated, several told us that they would vote for Hatch. They had no intention of talking to the other candidates. They had no intention of representing the precinct; they had the intention of getting Hatch re-elected.

That is the antithesis of the caucus system.

They didn't have a clue about what the duty of a delegate is. They thought that their duty was to campaign for a candidate.

How many people in Utah know what the caucus is? How many would rather watch TV than meet with their neighbors? So what if it takes until past midnight to finish the business? Are we so spoiled with freedom that we can't lose two hours sleep once every two years to ensure that we are represented by the best candidate? There are millions of soldiers who would wonder what country you belong to. They paid the ultimate price so that we could freely discuss politics and candidates - even if it took a few hours longer than expected. I'm sure that they would gladly spend those few hours to insure that our Republic continues.

Happy Valley, UT


Ending the caucus system will not change our government from a democratic republic to a democracy. Another irresponsible statement based on purely personal definitions of words.

Though not a Republican myself anymore, I find myself agreeing with Bob Bennett on a lot of issues. This one makes a lot of sense.

South Jordan, UT

The caucus system is an antiquated relic left over from the pre-information age. It has long outlived it's usefulness.

In it's original form, the caucus was as a forum where neighbors would meet to discuss the issues prior to selecting delegates for the conventions. Most people knew each other well and had a better knowledge of how their neighbors might respond to the key issues of the day.

In today's society, we no longer have that web of relationships with our neighbors. Most people in the precinct do not attend the caucus, and their voice is not heard; it is only the most engaged or most activist (some would say the most extreme) voices that make it to caucus night.

It is time to retire this relic of the 19th century and come into the information age. Average voters ARE able to make real decisions about who should be on the primary ballot. Let information reign.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

Obviously, the big players behind this "Buy My vote" referendum have some deep pockets.

I have to wonder WHY the issue is so important to them to put 500k behind it?

I also wonder how much the media have contributed. They stand to gain A LOT of additional advertising dollars (especially from the incumbents)if we switch to a primary.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah


Maybe your definition of "democratic republic" differs from what those who founded our nations considered to be a "democratic republic". They allowed one voter to represent that the wishes of a family (changed by the 19th Amendment). Some called the founders "sexists". Other's understood that they wanted the "democratic republic" to extend all the way down to the household. Their "mistake" was to not let that household select its delegate, man or woman.

If your plan works and if more than two candidates appear on the primary ballot, what precautions have you taken to ensure that a runoff election(s) will be held until one candidate receives the majority of votes cast? Of does that matter to you? Have you forgotten that Clinton never received a majority of votes in either election? Would he have been President if a runoff election had been held?

Voting directly is not allowed in a "democratic republic". That is a fundamental CHANGE in the way government operates. Only the incumbent benefits from your system. We don't need career politicians. Your system would ensure that only career politicians hold office.

Salt Lake City, UT

Have you watched the Pixar movie WALL-E ?

The people on the spaceship?

We don't want to get rid of the meeting. We can use driver's license bar codes and scanners to check large groups of people into the meeting. We can work on the voting system so it works for larger groups.

We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, the wealthy or the famous. This is a good thing, and should be preserved.

The Neighborhood Election and Convention system in Utah is the best way to make sure a grassroots process can win over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2 million in election funds.

Mr. Bennett didn't point out that while he spent $2 Million in election funds he lost to someone that had spent closer to $100,000 at convention. There were 60,000 people that went the GOP neighborhood elections in 2010.

The campaign fund numbers are much lower for state house seats, which is where the majority of the races are.

Trust Logic
Brigham City, UT, 00

Senator Bennett,

I appreciate your perspective. I wish you could have stayed in. But, I have to respectfully disagree with you here. My argument against Count My Vote is not about money, it's how to best represent the voice of the people. There are a lot of factors that distinguish polling from the actual votes. If polling is more accurate, then maybe we should start using it as our selection method. It is a passive system whereas voting requires participation and effort. Caucuses require even more.

I feel that the caucus system is a balance between methods of representation and direct voting. Can we make improvements, absolutely! But even how it stands, the benefits over a direct primary far outweigh its faults. More participation is the answer for any system. Our participation has dropped over the years, but more to come in line with the rest of the nation, not significantly below it. There is no evidence that a direct primary would improve this. My biggest concerns are when there are a lot of candidates on the ballot at once. There is no method to narrow them down to what the majority wants! It doesn't ensure better representation.

Trust Logic
Brigham City, UT, 00

I can't help but feel sorry for you. I know most of my neighbors. I have always felt that was important, not just for caucus night.

I was elected as a State Delegate for the first time last year. I promised to try to represent them. I called everyone who had attended and even some who didn't and asked them how I should vote (I tried a web page, but few responded). The majority of the time they had an opinion on U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, and Governor. Sometimes they new the state congressman candidates. But, most of the time for the other offices (a lot by the way), I received the same response, "We trust your judgement. Vote for who you think is best." I felt a lot of responsibility! I also realized that most people don't want to research EVERY candidate and office, but they do have some strong opinions.

Conclusion: We do need to make some improvements and changes, but a direct primary is not it. Most years we get 10-17% to a primary. A direct primary is NOT the answer!

Gordon Jones
Draper, Utah

Yes, Senator Bennett is correct: quite often the better-funded candidate is going to prevail, whether the nomination process is caucus or primary. But let's expand a bit on his history lesson. In 1992 Ted Stewart came within an ace of eliminating Bennett. He did so by working the delegates, because he had essentially no money. In 2010, Tim Bridgewater eliminated the much better funded Bennett in convention, and finished ahead of the wealthier Mike Lee.

One more piece of history that no one seems willing to mention. Olene Walker was not dumped by the delegates because of her ideology. As far as anyone was ever able to ascertain, she never had one. She was not dumped by the delegates because she was a woman. She lost re-nomination because she just wasn't a very competent governor. She had the position only because Mike Leavitt wanted a woman on the ticket. At the time, her own campaign was imploding and Mike bailed her out. She never had much delegate support.

The caucus system doesn't guarantee victory to the unknowns and the underfundeds, but it is the only hope they have.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Okay, Mike, here you go:

Republic: "a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president." Also, "a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law."

Democratic: "of, relating to, or favoring a democracy," which is "a government by the people: esp. rule of the majority." (Webster's)

Nothing here requires a caucus system. And all the other states that do not follow Utah's antiquated methods are well within the standard definitions of both "democratic" and "republic." This is what nonconlib was talking about with personal definitions. You use them every day.

J Thompson

Kent D. Forrest,

By your own post, you have shown that a caucus is the proper form of a "democratic republic". You wrote: "a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law."

That's exactly was a caucus is. We elect officers and representatives who are responsible to US and govern according to law. Contrast that to "rock stars" who prey upon the emotions of the public. What did Obama do? He "gave" cell phone to the masses. He promised them that the government would pay for their mortgages, for their student loans, for their every need. Was it a "lie"? Of course it was. The government hasn't paid for my mortgage. I still have to pay my cell phone bill. I am still obligated for every bill that I had before Obama took office. The only real difference is that my health insurance cost has increased by almost 100%. Is that the "change" that we need?

A caucus system let's us stop the nonsense at its root. It eliminates "rock stars".

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Any of you who support the current system, please tell me how we can address the following problem:

I agree with the elected delegate in who he supports for three races, but I completely oppose his choice for two other races. How is my choice for those races recognized? It’s not. My choices ARE recognized in a primary.

or am I just supposed to sit back and let the delegate take care of me? Nope, abrogation of personal responsibility is a tenet of the dem party, not repub.

We have a much better communication system now than in the 1930s

salt lake city, UT

@ lost in DC
1. You disagree with the elected delegate. Why aren't you the elected delegate?
2. Did you vet your delegate during the caucus? If not, why?
3. How hard would it be to speak to the delegate between the caucus and convention about your disagreements?
4. Could you speak to that delegate more than once be it by phone or knocking on their door since they are your neighbor?
5. Now lets suppose CMV passes: you have the opportunity to vote on the candidate that Mike Leavitt chooses for you, and, after that, the candidate wins and takes office. Now lets say you disagree with this congressman or senator. What are the chances of you getting through to that official?
6. Would they take your call?
7. Would they take Mike Leavitt's call..?

J Thompson


Haven't you got the cart before the horse? Why would you vote for any delegate who had already decided upon whom he had selected as the best candidate? That is not what a delegate does. You elect someone to talk to the delegates and to talk to the precinct members. After he has learned all that he can about the candidates and after he has spoken with the precinct members, THEN he will decide how to vote. Anyone who is simply a shill for a candidate should be dismissed by the precinct.

When you vote for a representative, is that representative bound to vote as you dictate, or is he bound to represent all of the people?

You seem to totally misunderstand the entire concept of having representatives. You seem to be in favor of having a "popularity contest". Most of us out grew "popularity contests" in junior high school.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Senator Bennett came in 3rd place at convention. That means not just one radical candidate, but TWO candidates got more support than he did (that's a pretty clear voice).

Getting rid of the Caucus system would not have saved his political career. The majority of the people in his party just thought it was time for another representative in the Senate. It happens. He had his chance for a long time, now somebody else is getting their chance to represent us in Washington.

An incumbent not getting re-elected doesn't necessarily mean the system has to change. Sometimes incumbents need to stay home so we can try another representative in Washington.

If HE fails to represent us... Bennett can always try again.

Far East USA, SC

"Elected officials do not represent the FUNDERS."

Unfortunately, that is primarily who they represent (behind themselves and their party)

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