Comments about ‘My view: Caucus meetings aren't representative or democratic’

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Published: Tuesday, March 25 2014 3:00 p.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

Kerry, if you’re concerned that things are moving along too quickly, then you need to speak up, express your concern, and ask more questions. The caucus agenda allows for that. Let your voice be heard, in a civil, constructive manner. The caucus system works well, but you may need to HELP it work well, within the outlined framework.

Salt Lake City, UT

So you didn't come to the 6pm to 7pm pre meeting to talk to the delegates prior to the 7pm start?

You do realize that both Jason Chaffetz and Mike Lee won their initial party nominee in Primaries and not at convention.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

In the meeting that I attended, we were told to come an hour early to discuss all issues. Most of us did. We were prepared to do our duty. We didn't make our own rules and then complain because we didn't follow the rules set by the party.

We knew the candidates that ran for office or who desired to become delegates. We've worked with them in many community projects for years. We knew their character. We KNEW them as well as we know family. That's why a caucus works.

It's easy to criticise the caucus when your agenda is to promote Count My Vote, but the caucus is not the place to debate the candidates running for county and State office. Many of those candidates filed on the day the caucus was held! How could anyone know the mind and will of those candidates? The delegates' job is to vett those people after talking with them, not before.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

I had a hoot at my caucus, though I agree with the author.

we were told to come early, but just to make sure we were registered and authorized to vote in the caucus. Our candidates for delegate were not even nominated until well after the meeting started - we had no real time to vet them. How could we talk to our delegates before hand if we didn't know who they were? and if they had already been selected, what was the point of the meeting. That's why a caucus does NOT work.

What a joke. I did have a fun time, though.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

In our caucus meeting the only person willing to do all the duties of the chairman ran unopposed for that position. The others who won positions as delegates were the people who weren't foolish enough to publicly admit to being moderates. Nobody could tell me what the issues even were for state and county. Sure, everyone hates Obamacare, but what does that have to do with the county elections?

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Can't speak to the relevance of the GOP caucuses, but I love the "speed dating" comment. As unaffiliated voters, my wife and I attended the Democratic caucus. Since we were the only ones to show up from our precinct, I am now the precinct chair and a delegate to the state convention, and my wife is a provisional delegate, even though we are not even party members. Welcomed with open arms. At least I know that my views will be well represented at the state convention. But this system really is ridiculous and is not at all democratic. Too bad the "Count My Vote" people caved in to the compromise. Oh well, at least in the future I'll be able to vote in Republican primaries.

salt lake city, UT

The irony of the caucus system is it gave us Mike Lee. After seeing how ineffective and partisan he's been the people have finally risen up and demanded changes to the system that failed us. More people particapating and voting is a good thing for democracy and a bad thing for those idealogues who currently control our political system. Kudos to the letter writer for pulling the curtains back on the charade of a system that has given us some of the worst representatives we have ever had.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

In a way I think "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", and Utah has some of the best governance in the country. Even Democrats have to admit that we have don't have the budget problems of Illinois or California, and this state is a good place to live and do business. We should also admit that it's annoying to have a person who studies the issues carefully and vets the candidates get his vote canceled out by a "low information voter" who thinks about politics for a few minutes each year right before election day. That's why even though my views didn't prevail in the caucus I attended I think it's a good system.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

The beauty of the caucus system is that it gave us Mike Lee. Bennett would not stand up for Constitutional principles (look at his record). Hatch does not stand up for Constitutional principles (look at his record). Most members of Congress will not stand up for Constitutional principles (look at their records).

Mike Lee stands for the Constitution. Those of you who think that the Constitution is outdated will tell us that Mike Lee has done nothing. Those of you who think that Congress can pass any law at any time about anything will tell us that Mike Lee is wrong; but, those of us who have read the Constitution, who know the limits that we have put on Congress, who actually believe that the oath taken by members of Congress is binding on them, know that Mike Lee is one of the few who is qualified by his knowledge and by his conduct to be a member of Congress.

Yes, the caucus system made it possible for Mike Lee to be in office. Thank God for honest people at the precinct level who voted their conscience.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

Our local Republican caucus was perfectly dominated by two highly organized right wing ladies who essentially controlled everything. It was a sight to behold as they shut down every voice but their own and their allies'.

Star Bright
Salt Lake City, Ut

Ken De Forrest: Oh well, at least in the future I'll be able to vote in Republican primaries.

And this is what's wrong with the count my vote system
I do not want open primaries where dems can cross the line in a state where they don't have to worry about their candidate to knock off a stronger candidate on the Republican side! I hope that isn't what Mr De Forrest is saying.

Kudos to Mike Lee. One of the few honest politicians in the congress.
I'm sure Bennett was a good man, but his travels with harry reid left an impression.

Travis G
Riverton, UT

I think it's interesting that you use Mike Lee and Jason Chaffetz as examples of how the Caucus system doesn't work. But their first attempt an running for office took them to a Primary. Where they won. So, I don't see how the caucus system doesn't work, if the results of the Primary were similar to the results of the caucus/convention.

Fitness Freak
Salt Lake City, UT

As alluded to above, the Republican party did a huge disservice to the party by allowing changes to the caucus system. What we undoubtedly will wind up with is democrats making decisions for the Republican party.

Political parties SHOULD be allowed to make rules for their own party. The opposition party needs to do whatever they can to draw voters. Thats their problem, not the problem of the opposite party.

I fail to see how a "direct" primary would give those who feel disenfranchised by the present system any more of a voice than they have in their current caucus meetings.

At the caucus meetings, not everyone gets their own way. So what? You get to find out how your neighbors feel about issues. You can still write in WHOEVER you want on your ballot when it comes time to vote.

This whole caucus vs. direct primary issue is based around the idea that some people think they should have more say in who gets elected than other people.

Obviously, the "buy my vote" backers became sad because THEY couldn't have the loudest voice. Sadder still is that the Republican-controlled legislature gave them what they wanted!!

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Star Bright and Fitness Freak,

I wouldn't worry too much about outsiders voting in your party's election. NH used to be among the reddest of states. It had open primaries but "mischief" votes by Democrats were simply not an issue. They were too interested in supporting their own candidates.

Open primaries may allow more independent voters to not register as Republicans(in NH they actually registered as independents). But, if you have good candidates, the open primary system can help engage the independent voters for your candidates.

Draper, UT

I completely agree with this article since my experience has been very similar. Once again this year we had a small group who were able to dominate the voting although their views do not represent our precinct as a whole. They were there to elect a specific candidate but dominated all of the elected positions, all of which were contested.

My wife and I left feeling very disenfranchised. I'm glad this is the last year under the current system.

salt lake city, UT

That's the way the majority of caucus's have been run for years and would have continued if not sabotaged by the right wing idealogues. They have sucessfuly used the system to pack our goverment with ineffective, partisan politcans who know little of our constitution or how to govern alongside others with different views. Most claim to be "true Americans" who understand the constitution and our country's problems more than others. What they did was wake up the masses who realize that many they have jammed into office can't govern. Change is coming and the people will once again have a voice in their goverment.

Logan, UT

"A political party has a First Amendment right...to choose a candidate selection process that will in its view produce the nominee who best represents its political platform." -Justice Scalia in Democratic Party v. Wisconsin

What the mega wealthy, political elite backers of CMV initiative and members of the legislature who struck the "Grand compromise", want is the right to the Republican Brand. The last two election cycles in UT prove that no one group controls the Utah GOP.

2010 the elected delegates denied Sen. Robert F. Bennett place on the primary ballot, Moderate Tim Bridgewater with 58% of the delegate vote, conservative Mike Lee with 42%. Lee won the election.

2012 Produced an entirely different result, Moderate Sen. Orrin Hatch and Conservative Utah Sen. Dan Liljenquist emerged from the convention with 59.19% and 40.81%. Hatch won the Election.

The selection of the process to select candidates is what is protected by the 1st amendment. The outcome is determined by those who choose to show up and participate.

Utah must prove political parties in UT are blatantly discriminating, based on race, religion, gender etc... or SB54 will be proven unconstitutional if the Political parties choose to fight in federal district court.

Durham, NC

The caucus system is a throw back to tribal politics where the groups elders decided what was best for the group. It shows, and sometimes rightfully so, that there is little faith in the actual voting public to be smart enough to vote for their own people.

But it also at face value seems to be exclusionary. It is weighted to favor the old and established, and is designed to keep outsiders - out. It create barriers to participate.

Well intended... yes. Perhaps useful when time and distance were factors. But today, it is a relic of a time past. But at the end of the day, it is up to the Republicans to decide how they pick the candidates. The fact that "independent" is the fastest growing and soon largest voting block in Utah should tell Republicans though what the people think about it.


Mr LDS religion tells me not to vote for a "party" but for good, wise and honest candidates. So what do I do if I am required to register as a Republican or a Democrat before attending a caucus meeting? I then must register as a Republican if that is the party whose candidates are most likely to be elected and also to have at least one or two potential candidates who are constitutionalists.

We are not thrilled by the available parties but there are some good candidates, generally aligned to the Republican Party but frowned on by the Old Guard Republicans and typical Democrats alike. I must then register Republican and vote for the most constitutional delegate, if there is one. It is frustrating but I am convinced that the caucus system is the better system to have a voice in the political process.

sherlock holmes
Eastern, UT

I would much rather vote for a candidate than a delegate. In that respect, the caucus system is seriously flawed. A primary election would be far better.

To those who think Mike Lee is one of which to be proud: He is finally -- finally -- figuring out why he is Washington DC. We hardly need another constitutional scholar in Washington. There are too many of those already there. We need a Senator who will work for and protect the best interests of Utah. Congress, who has the powers of the purse, is all about maintaining and procuring funding for facilities/programs within the states.

Mr Lee has heck to pay when he votes against important funding bills for Utah and her counties. The PILT bill is one example. I think he learned from this.

Will he step up and be able to maintain HAFB when Mr. Hatch is gone? That will be his first big test. Mr Hatch demands - and gets - an audience from those who would reduce the size of HAFB. Is Mr Lee up to the test? He has a few more years to build his stature and clout. Then the 'mantle' of being the senior senator is his.

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