Utah's caucus system needs reform

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  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    May 26, 2013 3:49 p.m.

    When I vote for a candidate in a primary election I know that, win or lose, my vote counts and is counted. When I go to a caucus and vote for a delegate, I have no assurance that the delegate even knows for whom he or she will ultimately be voting, and I wll have no say at all concerning how my "vote" will ultimately be given. Since I want my vote to count, I want the caucus system to be terminated and one winner-take-all primary for each party be instituted.

    The caucus system favors the party extreme. I want the rational voters in the party to have a chance to select a good candidate, not what we have now. I find it very sad that the ONLY Representative from Utah in the US House of Representatives who really speaks for the vast majority of Utahns is a Democrat. I want that to change, but it won't change if we're stuck with the caucus system. The caucus system does not need to be reformed. The caucus system needs to be eliminated, and a primary election put in its place.

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    May 24, 2013 6:02 p.m.

    The caucus system needs to be eliminated in favor of a general primary. Otherwise Utah will continue electing right wing extremists that only want to throw monkey wrenches into the workings of government, which they consider to be evil. Mike Lee and other Tea Party radicals are currently trying to finish off an already dysfunctional Senate, calling a bicameral reconciliation conference a "back room deal". Get real Senator. McCain was correct to call you out.

    I would be inclined to blame Utah voters, but everyone knows that a few Utah Tea Party radicals selected Lee in what was a real "backroom deal" and Utah voters have been well propagandized into believing that "righteous equals Republican".

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 24, 2013 11:26 a.m.

    So... what does "Reform" mean to the DMN???

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 24, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    Former Congressman Mickey Edwards who represented OK for 16 yrs.

    " California state, Washington State, you know, have taken the closed party primaries off the ballot. And they have created open primaries, where every candidate who wants to run, and qualifies to run, can vote on -- can be on the same ballot, and every single registered voter in the state can vote among -- choose all of those people, whoever they want, made nonpartisan redistricting commissions.

    You know, 24 states have in their state constitution initiative petitions. The people can take charge. They can get the signatures, put it on the ballot and they can break the system."

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 8:13 p.m.

    Re: MiddleRight: Great comment. Well said.

  • regis Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 6:16 p.m.

    I wouldn't oppose some of the "reforms" the Deseret News here advocates. But the notion that any voter is "disenfranchised" by the caucus system is not true. Anyone can attend their caucus and become a delegate. And if more people did so on a consistent basis, the radicals would quickly lose influence. Those who fail to do so should be ashamed. Is 3 or 4 hours every two years too much to ask?

    And let's consider the alternative some are advocating, i.e., getting rid of the caucus/convention system entirely, and substituting it with a direct primary. What does this accomplish? It would insure that those with money and/or name recognition win virtually every race. Is a system that assures millionaires can buy an office really the kind of system we want. Is that the kind of system that would re-ignite the passion of people to vote. Do we really want a state and nation governed only by the rich and famous, or do we want a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

    Be careful what you wish for, Deseret News, Lavar Webb, et al. You just might get it.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 23, 2013 4:43 p.m.

    I'm not a "If it aint broke, don't fix it", kinda guy. I'm a "Fix it up, don't throw it out", kinda guy.

    Seems like the anti-Caucus people are all about throwing it out (not fixing it up).

    "Reform" is one thing. "Replace" is another. All I hear from the anti-caucus crowd is "throw it out"! "Replace it"! "We meed a Primary"! Well... if Utah Republicans need a Primary to pick their Primary Candidates... do DEMOCRATS need a Primary to pick THEIR Primary candidates???

    Utahns seem so confused about how Party Primary Candidates are selected. It's really very simple. Both parties pick their primary candidates at their convention. Only difference is... the people sitting in the seats at the Republican Convention were selected by their nieghbors to represent them there (call them delegates). The people sitting in the seats at the Democrat Convetion were appointed by the party (party power-brokers if you will).

    Think about it...
    -How much say did you have in who sits in the Democrat Convention seats?
    -How much say did you have in who sits in the Republican Convention seats?
    That's the only difference.

  • Eliot Santaquin, UT
    May 23, 2013 2:13 p.m.

    "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" seems appropriate from the standpoint that every state-wide elected office in the state of Utah is occupied by a Republican. Party members hold three out of four Congressional House seats and narrowly missed a clean sweep last year. Furthermore, the state legislature is firmly in Republican hands. The purpose of the Republican party is to get Republicans elected--that's it. Sounds like they are doing a pretty good job with the system they have.

  • Trust Logic Brigham City, UT, 00
    May 23, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    "The system is ... broken ... It needs to be fixed..."
    Two problems with this premise:
    1- How do you know it's broken? That is an opinion. Did someone ask every voter who they would have voted and prove that the system didn't appropriately represent the majority, or is this all based on a small poll of friends?

    2- Only about 10% of voters went to a caucus last year and 20% voted in the primary (based on numbers from the state website). How would a change in the system fix that? Please don't tell me that 90% of Utah was busy on a week night but would have gone on a weekend or if only the threshold for a primary was at 2/3.

    3- Ideas and changes are not vetted the same way as candidates. There have been a few opinions letters/articles, but I never say a debate about the concepts on KSL. I received lots of mail/emails from the candidates, but none on the benefits of raising the threshold. I'm guessing most delegates' knowledge on the subject came from the very negative 10 minute debate.

    'Like rearranging chairs on the Titanic'

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 11:43 a.m.

    "2 bits" Well said!!

    Lets have DN, KSL, etc. give the same amount of airtime to ALL the 3rd party candidates, yes, even the communist and socialist candidates!

    Until the media change the way THEY vet candidates, they should leave vetting of particular party candidates - to the particular parties.

  • MiddleRight Orem, UT
    May 23, 2013 11:40 a.m.

    The push away from the Caucus system is pushed by the Democrats who want to vote for the least liked person in the Republican Primary so their candidate has the best chance of winning. I was around to watch that years ago.

    My Caucus has a lot of folks show up. We ended up with Delegates who pretty much represented our area. If someone thinks they weren't? Get off you duff and get involved.

    I at least can express my views and be heard. Go back to the "Primary" system and I have absolutely no voice.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 23, 2013 11:05 a.m.

    It may need reform. That depends on what you mean when you say "Reform". It has flaws. But I don't think we should throw the baby out with the bath_water (throw it out altogether because of a few flaws).

    The DMN article said the system must be changed because delegates have too much influence. Well if THAT aint the pot calling the kettle black... if anybody has too much influence over Utah politics it's the DMN, KSL, etc. They are the ones with dispraportionate influence in who gets elected (By who they decide to cover, who gets air-time, who's news they choose to cover in a positive light, who they target for criticism, etc). So if the DMN is going to campaign to limit the influence of delegates... I say we start a campaign to limit the influence the news media has over election outcomes... how's that for fairness?

    Everybody knows media coverage determines election outcomes. Everybody knows KSL and DMN get big $$$ from big businesses, special interest groups, and political campaigns (they all buy tons of advertising). Maybe we should put limits on the news media's involvement in determining elections???

  • 3arwax Logan, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    Dave Hansen just told me he is no longer part of the group.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    May 23, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    I'm skeptical of anyone who attempts to make an argument that things should be left to the elite few, because the larger populace is too easily swayed by money and fame. They act as if delegates are immune to these influences.

    When Utah_1 says "grass roots efforts" he means tea party--a "grass roots" organization with millions of dollars at its disposal nationwide. These "grass roots" efforts were pushed through to the general election, which has resulted in the ouster of more moderate candidates with much more parallel values to the voters in Utah.

  • i am hank Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    I am a delegate. I attended the convention last week. The proposed changes, which I thought were reasonable and designed to increase participation in the political process, never had a chance to be adopted. The well was poisoned long before the vote was taken. For example, before the convention started, a video was played on a loop in the convention hall itself (not in the area where campaigning was taking place) advocating for no changes in the caucus system. The video, which greeted every delegate as he/she walked into the hall, made nonsensical claims like "the caucus system is why Utah is the best-managed state in the nation," and "open primaries lead to decreased voter participation." In addition, delegates fought during the convention to get the proposals taken off the agenda so a vote wouldn't occur. Fortunately, those efforts failed. The truth is that the current system keeps power concentrated with the few and disnfranchises the many, which sometimes results in the public not getting a chance to vote for reasonable incumbents overwhelmingly popular with the public (i.e. Olene Walker and Bob Bennett), which is bad for Utah and for the Republican party.

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    May 23, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    In my opinion, someone high up at KSL/Deseret News/Deseret Management Corp has a burr up his or her saddle and is wanting to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    This is not that important an issue to merit so much steam by this press. Get over it. The Republican Party can choose its method of selection for the election process. The individual with the burr clearly dislikes conservatives and feels the current system breeds too many "ultra right wingers".

    Tough. The process of delegate selection will typically encourage those most passionate. And the mindset of the mediocre, meandering, milquetoast, non-committal middle is anything but passionate.

    I personally dislike your recommendations. So there.

    Move on.

    Next issue?

    May 23, 2013 7:10 a.m.

    With the system we have now it is easier to replace incumbents. Delegates are not any more extreme than your average Joe. Since term limits are not going to be on the table, let's keep a system where it is easy to get elected. Being a representative is not meant to be a job for extended periods of time.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 23, 2013 6:35 a.m.

    Why change to a weekend? We vote for State and national leaders on a Tuesday in November - not on a weekend.

    The caucus system follows the form of government that we have in a Republic. We elect proxies to represent us. In this case, we elect people to nominate candidates who will appear on the ballot for the primary. That's how a Republic works. Our proxies vote in our behalf after they have listened to the Republican members of their precinct and after they have talked to the candidates. Our precinct representatives are expected to put in the necessary time and effort to do the job that they were elected to do.

    The issue seems to be that the process is not convenient for too many voters. To that, I say, "grow up". Liberty takes effort. If someone can't attend the caucus, he can talk to other members of his precinct and ask them to represent his views at the caucus. That's how a Republic works.

    The election process starts at the caucus meeting, not at the Primary.

  • truth to be Told Orem, UT
    May 23, 2013 1:04 a.m.

    Delegates didn't reject changes because they don't want to improve the Caucus system. Those proposals were rejected because they were poorly written and the chair allowed only 10 minutes for debate. These were the most important issues but the chair preferred to spend time giving worthless recognitions to people that didn't deserve them and allowing a candidate of the 4th Congressional District to speak before she becomes the official GOP nominee.

    Delegates also rejected a proposal to raise the thresholds from 60% to 2/3 because it would create more primaries giving the advantage to Elite, Wealthy and Famous candidates with connections to powerful LOBBYISTS from Washington D.C.

    This 2/3 proposal was also presented by the Elite "Count My Vote" group under threats of running an initiative to create a Dual Track Primary System. This was never a good faith proposal, it was an extortion and delegates rejected it for what it was!

    The Count My Vote group is lead by moderate and progressive Republicans that stand no chance of getting elected within a conservative GOP Party. Their only chance is to buy elections through expensive primary campaigns. Could they Buy Your Vote? Preserve our Caucus System!

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 12:35 a.m.

    The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure a grass roots process can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds. We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, wealthy or famous. This is a good thing.

    Neighbors discussing the best candidates and finding ways to improve this state and nation.

    That is being proposed to be removed from the neighborhood caucus meeting. Dropping off our votes but not discussing. That is what is wrong with Washington DC. They don't listen to each other in a meeting. They watch from their offices. We need to change that not follow it.

    Perhaps the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote group should go watch WALL-E from Pixar again, the people on the spaceship.

    There were about 120,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in 2012 to elect the 4000 State Delegates and more county delegates.

    We are talking neighborhood town halls. We aren't just meeting to elect delegates. We believe the Count My Vote / Buy My Vote group would ruin that.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 12:31 a.m.

    One of the principles of those wanting to gut the neighborhood election caucus meeting and convention system we have in Utah, was this: " A system that provides inherent advantages to those who are incumbent, wealthy or famous is not acceptable."

    The problem is their proposals would do exactly that.

    The Caucus System in Utah is the best way to make sure grass roots movements can work over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2,000,000 in election funds.

    There were about 120,000 republicans in Utah that went to the neighborhood caucus elections in 2012 to elect the 4000 State Delegates. Add to those numbers the democrats and the primary elections. Certainly the municipal elections didn't do any better in voter representation.

    Bypassing the Caucus / Convention System will NOT create more participation. There are 4000 state delegates that spend countless hours vetting candidates to be on the ballot. They are selected by those that attend the neighborhood election caucus meeting. You just have to attend.

    The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. I think that is a good thing.