State GOP leaders plot strategy against Count My Vote initiative

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  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    We have the #1 state in the Union. Yes we have problems like less good education than we would like. So we should go to liberal ideas and be like Greece?

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 4:13 p.m.

    I've attended caucus meetings. I've sat there as loudmouthed extremists mobilized and emboldened by FreedomWorks browbeat their fellow citizens while biased party officials selectively applied rules of order. I've watched in dismay while, thanks to the lopsided caucus turnout and the tactics employed, delegates were selected whose views were unrepresentative of our precinct. We invited delegates individually to our home, discussed the candidates and the issues, and pled with each to use his convention vote to represent the will of the precinct voters, to no avail. The candidate favored by the majority in our precinct and throughout the state was eliminated at convention.

    Afterwards I visited a meeting where FreedomWorks gloated over their success and discussed tactics for repeating it at the next caucus. Thankfully, they were thwarted by higher turnout. But caucus meetings scale poorly. Our precinct meeting's planned room seated 25, but we had well over 100; we wasted five hours of people's time and ended after midnight. Bleary-eyed parents, elderly people, and everyone else endured it because single party dominance without primaries meant this was their only voice in government.

    Does that sound like a working system?

  • GiuseppeG Murray, Utah
    Sept. 23, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    Haven't read all the comments yet...but has anyone mentioned how it is even Constitutional for the State to direct how a political party chooses to select its representative to the general election? Seems to me there used to be language in the State code trying to direct how parties pick their choices, but it was stripped out as unconstitutional. I haven't heard any discussion along those lines yet.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 23, 2013 1:31 p.m.


    Have you attended caucus meetings? Have you talked with the delegates? Just exactly why do you think that the caucus system is broken?

    How would an uninformed electorate do a better job at "vetting" canadates than a delegate who is duty bound to do the will of those he represents in his precinct?

    Who would you have on the ballot who would not be there if he was "vetted" by hundreds of delegates who carefully looked at him? Would you want the person who had been bought by special interest groups to be on the ballot? Would you want the person who had been "approved" by the Republican Party to be on the ballot? OR, would you want the person who best represented the voice of the people to be on the ballot?

    Your plan would put the person who was obligated to do the will of special interest groups on the ballot. Those who pay the piper get to choose the tune. Your plan has nothing to do with a "democratic republic". It reverses power from the people to the government.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 1:08 p.m.

    Re: "Those who like the status quo, take heed. The majority of Utah is not on your side, & you know it!"

    We know no such thing!

    What we know is "buy my vote" is an attempted coup by the moneyed elite. They believe they should decide who we vote for, so they can control the outcome.

    No real Utahn believes that's right.

    And you know it.

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 12:40 p.m.

    Mike Richards, it's not Democrats saying we should do away with the caucus system, and to say that the way you show you value the voice of the people in politics is to exclude all but a handful of them from participating in actually choosing their representatives is absurd.

    The people who want to stick with the broken status quo keep repeating the idea that somehow regular citizens are morons who are so suggestible that their opinions are just a reflection of whatever advertisements pass their way, while convention delegates are perfectly rational and magically immune to the influence of money. This is tremendously laughable. What's easier to buy- the votes of a few dozen delegates, whose identities and addresses are easily available to the candidates, or the votes of a few hundred thousand citizens? When a member of my family was a convention delegate, she was inundated with easily ten times the political mail and phone calls she normally got.

  • Evets Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    Having lived most of my life in direct primary states I for one am all for maintaining the Caucus system. Before I really had no say who became our candidates. Now at least I have some say. I don't always get who I want but at least I have had a say at the neighborhood level. I love the great turnout we get at our meetings...always a packed rooms. Seems like most of our neighbors are there. We get to have our say and to finally vote for who represents us at the convention. We are just regular people selecting regular people as delegates. I just don't understand it when people here post about the elitist picking the candidates. The only time I have seen that is when I lived in direct primary states.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 23, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    When Democrats tell us that we should do away with the caucus system, then we know that they fear the voice of the people in politics.

    When well-moneyed former elected officials want to bypass the voice of the people in the caucus, you know that they still have obligations to their old-friend-funders.

    Lazy people want to do away with the caucus. They can't be bothered to spend an evening to elect delegates, delegates who will ignore the money thrown around by incumbants. They can't be bothered to pick up the telephone to talk to a political "hopeful". They can't be bothered to throw out the career politicians and elect people who are not in the "pockets" of special interest groups.

    In America we get what we deserve. How many people ever studied Obama before voting for him? How many knew his political history? How many knew his associates? How many just liked his "rock star" image?

    Take the people out of the system and all we'll ever see in office will be "rock stars" who promise everything and then do nothing. That's what "count my vote" is all about - rock stars.

  • On the other hand Riverdale, MD
    Sept. 22, 2013 11:09 p.m.

    DN Subscriber 2 conveys the dismal reality of the caucus system when he says "you MIGHT get elected to be a delegate." Because in the caucus system, you have to convince your neighbors that you belong in the political elite before you can really have a say. Of the 1.47 million registered voters in the state of Utah, only a few thousand have any direct influence on the outcome of the crucial first (and often only) round of the nominating process.

    When you vote in a primary, your vote may not count for much--but it absolutely counts. When you show up at a neighborhood caucus and discover that a handful of your neighbors have already rigged the whole affair, you effectively have no voice.

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Sept. 22, 2013 6:36 p.m.

    "Now it is not common that the avoice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people." (Mosiah 29:26)

  • davidmpark Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 5:47 p.m.

    So, that means that the Democrats can vote for who their Republican opponents will be... and vice verse. I will not have a voice after all. It's not like they listen to us in the first place. At least some up there are trying to stop my disenfranchisement.

  • uteman1011 South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 5:18 p.m.

    "The way we win this thing is rural Utah," said Billings, the former Washington County Republican Party chairman. He said the party has the infrastructure to stall signature-gathering in rural areas of the state.

    The party doesn't care about what the voters think. They are beholden to themselves and the extreme elements of the party who want to control everything at all cost.

  • ray vaughn Ogden, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    DN subscriber 2 "chosen to make other things a priority" Not everyone is able to attend the meetings. Some people work in the eveenings or family obligation conflict. It ios difficult to believe proponents of the current system who attempt to portray Mile leavitt, Gail Miller and Norma matheson among others as bolshevils and anarchists intent on destroying freedom. To those who call people 'low infoirmation voters or uninformed voters that generally is the derisive term used to describe people who arrive at a different decision on whom to support and vote for. The state GOP leaders seem intent od disrupting the initiave process in rural communities instead of providing a good argument for keeping the caucus system. Every tie an initiave petition reaches the election bsllot the legislature makes the petition process more difficult. Signatures have to be collected in 26 of the 29 counties. harly ignoring the rural voters.

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    The caucuses assure the power of political parties. You have to register in one, or at very least participate in one of their meetings, to be part of the system. My participation over 30 years makes me very cynical about the value of giving them all the power. Do away with the caucuses to assure that power stays in the hands of the people. Congress is broken now because of parties that are too extreme and too powerful.

  • mightyhunterhaha Kaysville, UT
    Sept. 22, 2013 12:13 p.m.

    The caucus system only supports the right wing zealots of the party. This chases off those truly in the middle that want to participate in the process. Hatch was successful in fighting off the right wing but he was the only one in recent times. had we a primary system in place Utah would have true representation and lee would never have been elected. It is time for change! It is time to shut down the right wing zealots!

  • Uncle Gadianton Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 22, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    No system for selecting candidates is perfect. There is potential abuse of power in both the caucus system and the direct primary system advocated by the Count My Vote drive.

    The caucus meetings are only one step in the process. Neighborhood "town hall" meetings select delegates that represent the precinct at the state convention. If a person is unable to attend the actual caucus meeting, he or she can still contact the delegate to discuss issues. Delegates should reach out to citizens to get input. A direct primary severs that connection to the grass roots citizenry in the candidate selection process. The caucus system thus serves as a check on the primary system, if citizens are directly involved.

    However, the caucus system itself needs checks and balances. There is potential for a "runaway" convention dominated by special interests or extreme elements that do not adequately represent the "rank and file" party members and voters. A check on this potential abuse is to increase the number of delegates needed to avoid a primary. Citizens would then be able to select their nominee. This balance is best for the parties, the state, and its citizens.

  • stevo123 slc, ut
    Sept. 22, 2013 8:50 a.m.

    I can see why the Republicans want to keep the caucus, it take politics away from the local folks. My question is where were they when they gerrymandered Salt lake City to dilute its political base?

  • Midwest Mom Soldiers Grove, WI
    Sept. 22, 2013 7:32 a.m.

    If the Republican party is encouraging Utah to keep its current system, then do you think that the current system is really more representative of the people?

  • Bob01 Layton, Utah
    Sept. 21, 2013 10:45 p.m.

    Calling people "low information voters", which people have stolen from Rush Limbaugh, is so condescending, it speaks to where these types of people are coming from. They scream about not wanting to be controlled by elitists, yet don't even realize their own actions make them the elitists. Telling people they are "low information", is basically calling people stupid unless they agree with you. Yeah, that's not elitist at all. Thinking you know better than others so you should be able to make decisions for them is also extremely elitist.

  • DN Subscriber 2 SLC, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 10:37 p.m.

    If you don't like the caucus system- then show up at the caucus after getting a bunch of neighbors to agree with you, and YOU might get elected to be a delegate. If you are too busy, that just indicates that you have chosen to make other things a priority and helping select nominees is too much bother for you.

    The people who want direct primaries are the powerful elites, with the money and name recognition to fool enough low information voters to win. The other supporters are the media, who stand to get rich selling advertising for a primary, and political pundits who want to be able to fool people into voting for their choice.

    No, the caucus system is the best was to ensure grass roots participation, and thorough review of candidates with ample opportunity for the most people to make their views heard.

    If only 5 out of 50 states use the caucus system, then the smart ones will eventually switch to it. Most states are poorly run with lots of bad politicians, and direct primaries seem to help them stay in power.

    Keep the caucus system. And everyone should show up!

  • Prodicus Provo, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 10:20 p.m.

    Bob01, well put.

    Note the Republican leadership's strategy here- treat rural voters as gullible, try to drive a divisive wedge between them and the Wasatch Front, do whatever it takes to frustrate the will of the people. The party insider network is running scared and they know the majority of citizens want their state back.

    Fitness Freak, political parties are welcome to make their own rules and act as entirely private entities- but really acting as private entities requires that they they stop using public infrastructure for their activities (e.g. caucus meetings), have party endorsement information and straight-party options removed from ballots, etc. If you think the parties in Utah should go for that, go right ahead! Otherwise, if they're taking public benefits, the public can set conditions to promote the public interest.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 8:43 p.m.

    "Count my Vote" SHOULD be called "Buy my Vote" Take a good look at the people who are pushing the idea.
    Old time politicians who, somehow, didn't seem to mind the caucus system that got THEM elected.

    All that changed the last few years when people began to notice more and more how politics directly affects their lives. To our credit, we are holding our politicians MUCH more accountable than ever. Incumbent politicians don't always appreciate that.

    The caucus system makes politicians MUCH more accountable than a direct primary.

    Some of the "old guard" think THEY should mostly decide who represents Utah. THEY think they know best.

    By the way; you can STILL write in any name you wish on the ballot. Your own if you want.

    Why not let the political parties pick who represents THEM?

  • MiddleRight Orem, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 7:44 p.m.

    Well "one old Man" sounds like you should go to the Caucus and have a say. I do. Once there is only a primary system, only the rich and connected will be able to get in.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 6:28 p.m.

    As long as the Caucus system is in place, I DO NOT have a voice. Only a few people attend our neighborhood caucus. Most of them are Tea Party right wing extremists. They are able to completely commandeer and control a meeting, shouting down any who try to speak in more moderate voices.

    The idea that it will favor the wealthy can be taken care of by carefully planning the process by which a person's name is placed on the ballot. Requiring a certain number of signatures on a petition is a start with no filing fees and a requirement that no one may be paid to collect those signatures or advertise on TV or other media. If it is a good person seeking support from those who know him or her, the playing field will be much more level.

    But finding a good solution is probably beyond our Republican Party.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 6:26 p.m.

    Dixie Dan,
    re: Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round. Mike Lee managed to get 43% and make it to a primary. Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

    I am concerned direct primaries would result in a system where only wealthy, well-funded candidates could get elected and there would be no incentive for candidates to visit rural areas, whereas now a candidate can’t afford to neglect anywhere delegates live.

    I’m nervous that we’re going back to a system Utah tried for 10 years and didn’t like and we’re going to create fly-over counties. Individuals who do not have the name-recognition or the money will have a much harder time getting involved to start with.

  • Bob01 Layton, Utah
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:52 p.m.

    Those who like the status quo, take heed. The majority of Utah is not on your side, & you know it! You don't like government making decisions for you, yet you have no problem making decisions for others. I want to make my own decisions. Don't tell me garbage like, "you can decide to go to the neighborhood meetings". Blah, blah. I don't want my neighbors making decisions for me, I don't care how much more time they have to spend w/candidates. I'll spend my time doing my research & make my own decision on who to vote for! If I don't do as much research as my neighbor, oh well, at least the decision is mine & mine alone, as it should be. I don't like the crowds that are turning up to these Republican neighborhood caucuses. I don't want them making decisions for me. Yeah, they've made great decisions-Mike Lee & a state auditor that isn't even a CPA (who also is always posting on Facebook during times I'd think he'd be working, & his posts rarely have to do with what he was elected for!)

  • Dixie Dan Saint George, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    The best reason for Count My Vote to succeed is Mike Lee. How anyone could possibly think he would be better than Bob Bennett is a mystery. To save the economy, Bennett voted for TARP which caused him to lose in the caucus. Now we have Lee whose vote my well cause a severe economic collapse of our economy. Brutal is the only word I can think of that describes Senator Lee.

  • FDRfan Sugar City, ID
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    About time Utah started believing in its citizens. But power will never be given up without a fight. Explain to us why the initiative is unconstitutional Utah GOP.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:39 p.m.

    sherlock holmes
    We tried the Primary system without the caucus. It lasted for 10 years and voting went down.

    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.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:37 p.m.

    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?

    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?

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:37 p.m.

    We call upon Citizens of Utah , the Utah Legislature, and Political Parties in Utah to protect the Utah Neighborhood Election, Caucus and Convention Candidate Nomination Process.

    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.

    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.

  • MiddleRight Orem, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:35 p.m.

    As long as the Caucus system is in place, I have a voice. If we can just get it so we have a primary only, then the richest politicians can buy their way in.

    I have ABSOLUTELY NO input in a primary. This is why the Democrats want the Caucus to go away. To suppress the input of citizens who make an effort to get involved, but can't afford the big billboards.

    When was the last time you could actually get a real answer from a politician? I asked my local representative to get answers, and he did. That was why Bennett isn't there anymore.

  • sherlock holmes Eastern, UT
    Sept. 21, 2013 5:11 p.m.

    Hurray for the concept of having a primary election. It's time has come and then some. Candidates have many ways to get their message out these days, and every citizen deserves the opportunity to choose for whom he/she will vote. There is no need for a caucus system to select an elite few who then have all the fun.

    Let's try a primary election. The Party would still be the Party. There would be no power shift to the dems. Many states are doing it this way. And doing it successfully. More involvement -- more energy.