A caucus myth

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  • Ballplayer Spanish Fork, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 8:23 a.m.

    I don't know about all of your precincts, but my precinct has great attendance at caucuses and has a history of voting down candidates who come with an agenda or preselected candidate. I've run as a delegate for the last 3 election cycles on the promise that I will vet each candidate and vote for those who most closely match my political philosophy. I then explain that philosophy to the voters. Every year I have beaten other delegate candidates who come with preslected candidates and agendas. I can't believe my neighbors are any smarter than yours, so if your not having a great experience like this with grass roots politics, maybe you start looking at how you get people to attend and participate in your caucuses and who you are selecting as delegates. Delegates are not the bad people the "count my vote" campaign makes them out to be. They are our neighbors who are willing to participate in the process. Stop vilifying them.

  • hnoel Layton, UT
    Feb. 19, 2014 5:49 p.m.

    Excellent commentary, Gerald. The success of the Count My Vote petition would result in voters being more influential, and extremists less influential.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 19, 2014 10:38 a.m.

    There is no "runoff" election with count my vote. Do the math. A minority candidate with a strong following could become the "party's" candidate even though he received a minority vote. Without "runoff elections", a direct primary represents nobody.

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 4:17 p.m.

    Representative democracy works as well as people put work into it. If it's not working well at the caucus level; it's working worse at the polls, simply because you should know the neighbor you vote for at the caucus better than a candidate from some other locale who is on a primary ballot. Vote for your representative at whatever level according to the known integrity and wisdom of the candidate. Truth usually runs somewhere inbetween or partially across party lines. Neither conservatives or liberals have a corner on the whole truth. Both can be totally wrong on an issue.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 4:02 p.m.

    Mike Richards,
    The purpose for the house and senate is to overcome the inefficiencies in a pure democracy and to give proportionate representation to the states and to the individuals. While we would hope that we send the best and brightest as our representatives in government, rarely are the judgments of the few better than that of the overall population.

    But as Twin Lights says, we do not elect electors to elect our senators and representatives, we elect them ourselves.

    Those backing the caucus system support a system that says we aren’t smart enough to select candidates, and we need those wiser and smarter than us to do it for us. How condescending and patrician of them! “you’re too stupid, let us take care of you” is a liberal idea, wholly unbecoming of conservatives but the back-bone of the caucuses. Interesting that our usual liberal commenters oppose the caucus system.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 3:27 p.m.

    Multiple meetings I have attended where the room was "stacked" by a specific candidates supporters with the express point of getting a supporter elected to be assured they will vote for that candidate at convention. As has been pointed out already, Orrin Hatch was a perfect example. It can get downright ugly at some of the meetings with delegates pressured to vote a specifc way or not be elected at all.

    Anyone who claims that the caucus system can't be or isn't run by special interests has been attending their caucus meetings blindfolded and with ear plugs.

  • Utefan60 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 1:56 p.m.

    2bits No Matter what, No one has the right to take my vote away because they don't think I'm informed enough! I respect the right of even the so called "uninformed" to cast a vote. It's their right and a hard won right at that! Maybe we should not let minorities, poor people, or young people vote either. They might not be informed enough.

  • Confused Sandy, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 12:49 p.m.

    Someone asked "if the caucus system was so great, why is Utah the only one that has one?"

    There are currently 14 states that use the caucus system (Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Nevada, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, Wyoming, Texas, Utah.

    Each state has changed the caucus system to meet their needs, I believe Utah is the only one that uses this form of the caucus meetings....

    Now my point is this, although the GOP/Democrats have the right to choose their own representatives, it leaves out a Hugh voting block (independents) from having a chance to vote for someone who they want to win. So do our votes count? You say form a party of your own and choose a candidate. To me that is a cop out, what if I lean Right on most fiscal issues and feel there are several good candidates in the GOP that would do well in this area? I can not vote for them because I am not "Registered". So my input is null and void.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 12:00 p.m.

    You already have the power to unelect Senator Bramble (2 times - Primary Election, and General Election). You have the exact same opportunities to ditch Bramble you will have IF CMV wins.

    People who pretend they don't have a vote unless CMV wins... show they don't understand our current system.


    Very few people think that any delegate is smarter than any other Utahn. Maybe Mike Richards disagrees, but we are all about the same intelligence. Maybe he was saying many people don't take the TIME to research the candidates in depth, and end up going to the polls not even knowing who's running or who they want.

    I have people in my own family who wake up election day in a panic because they don't know anything about the candidates besides what they saw on TV.

    If you're at convention... you can't help learning something about the candidates (more than watching a 60second promo-add or a 60second attack-add).

    You can't attend Convention and not learn more about the issues, party agenda, people in office already (and what they have/haven't done) and what they intend to do IF elected.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 18, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    Mike Richards

    On that basis, we should have electors when we go to actually elect our representative and senators as well. But we don’t. Electing a candidate directly to represent a party is no more a problem it is in the general election.

    BTW you description of how uninformed caucus voters were does nothing to make the current system more palatable.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 11:30 a.m.

    @Mike Richards
    "some voters asked me who was running! "

    You should've made that person a delegate since that person would be quite unbiased which you seem to value in this process.

  • Utefan60 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 10:59 a.m.

    Mike Richards would still have us believe that we are too uninformed, uneducated or otherwise not informed to make our vote count. Those people stuffing my caucus meetings are better at choosing for us unintelligent masses. That isn't true. I have been pushed out of a caucus meeting that didn't represent my neighborhood. Too many people don't have all the time to attend for various reasons. That doesn't mean they are uneducated and that the Eagle Forum should stuff my meeting with their people. The one vote system is fair and honest. It is the people that don't want to loose their power that are complaining and making the arguments that it needs to stay. I don't want the Eagle Forum or the Sutherland Institute eliminating my vote.

  • Sal Provo, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 10:33 a.m.

    Senator Bramble's bill to alter the caucus system doesn't reflect the desire of the majority of Utahans who prefer a direct Primary. He was elected to do the will of the people. I hope we can prevail with Count My Vote. I won't vote for Sen. Bramble again.

  • J in AZ San Tan Valley, AZ
    Feb. 18, 2014 10:18 a.m.

    It occurs to me that there is merit in both the arguments for keeping the caucus system in place and going to a primary based system like the Count My Vote advocates want. What if you turn the paradigm a little sideways. Have a primary election first. The top three getting votes move on the the caucus/convention step. The caucuses are held after the primary has thinned the roster of candidates. The delegates selected go in the the conventions and select the final candidate from the primary survivors. The candidate that goes to the final election is the one that gets the most votes after two rounds of voting. In the first round, the third place candidate gets dropped. In the second round the finalist needs a simple majority.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 9:59 a.m.

    Thanks, Mr. Nebeker, for an accurate and well-informed letter.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    Fact #1:
    The outcome will not change drastically if we do away with the Convention. The same people will win in the end. So I don't care much which way it goes. But it bothers me the level of mis-understanding and mis-information that the Convention foes are expressing on our current system.

    It wouldn't even matter much who goes to convention (the same people would win).

    Fact #2: Every individual already gets 3 opportunities to have their individual vote counted. Most take advantage of only 1 (if that).

    Fact #3: Most people (delegates included) end up voting on name recognition or the TV/Radio media blitz a candidate can muster.

    Fact #4: The final outcome won't change much.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    Myth 6-10: That your vote isn't counted. In fact you have the opportunity to vote and have your vote counted... 3-4 TIMES! IF you bothered to vote.

    Vote #1:
    (every individual) At your caucus meeting.

    Vote #2: Convention... If delegate
    This is the only one you will miss out on if you are not selected as a delegate from your neighborhood to the convention. And IMO it doesn't matter who is selected as the delegate, as long as they have an open mind (meaning not committed to one specific candidate yet).

    Vote #3: party primary election... individual vote (if you bother to vote, only 6% did in my district in the last party primary 2013)

    Vote #4: General election... individual vote (if you bother to vote) Only 50.5 percent of Utahns even bothered to cast a vote in the General Election.


    Using group representatives/delegates is not a new or terrible thing. In ancient democracies one representative of each family/clan would go to the counsel to vote.


    Myth #11: That every individual will get the literature for each candidate and read it before voting.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    There are many myths concerning the caucus/convention system, as well as myths in the CMV movement.

    Myth #1: That the delegate you select will vote the way you would on every issue.
    That's an impossible expectation.

    Myth #2: That the delegate commits to vote for a certain candidate. Delegate volunteers should not (and usually don't) stand up and take an oath before the caucus to vote for any specific candidate or ballot initiative. They share their general philosophy and what they are looking for in a candidate, and commit to keep an open mind and evaluate the candidates with that philosophy guiding their vote (not a proxy for every individual in the room).

    Myth #3: That delegates think they are more politically savvy than other people. They do/should not claim any special skill or wisdom. They need only promise an open mind and expose their philosophy in general.

    Myth #4: That the delegate could possibly vote exactly as each person in the room would vote. That's impossible.

    Myth #5: That the delegate needs to report back to you confirming they voted the way you would.

    Myth #6-10: That you don't get to vote....

  • high school fan Huntington, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 8:11 a.m.

    If count my vote is implemented then all counties outside of the wasatch front become irrelevant. Statewide candidates will travel between Ogden and Provo and nowhere else.
    And unfortunately the majority of people pay no attention to politics and have no clue about the issues.

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 7:49 a.m.

    If the caucus system were so wonderful, why hasn't it been adopted in all the other states? They seem to be able to elect their representatives without it. Why can't we?

  • Tulip West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 7:29 a.m.


    I once served as a delegate....elected to represent my neighborhood. At the time I'd never even heard of the Sutherland Institute and little of the Eagle Forum. But having said that...why are you so threatened by them? People can think for themselves and filter out what is good and what isn't. Both organizations bring some good things to the table...and some things that are suspect. Big whoop. So do other organizations. Not sure how I feel yet about the Count My Vote initiative but if your looking to follow the money...seems to me like the Republican Establishment has the most to lose. The push started with them and you really have to ask yourself why that is...

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 18, 2014 7:13 a.m.

    I'm sure that the letter writer would also think that he could make better decisions than Mike Lee or his Representative in the House, but that's not the way a Democratic Republic works. We are represented by others. We don't have to talk to every candidate. The candidates don't have to talk to every citizen and explain ad infinitum his views on every possible subject.

    At the last caucus meeting, there were a lot of people who came for the first time. Many of them stated that they were there to elect Orrin Hatch. They didn't even know what a caucus meeting was. Many of them, when asked, didn't know who the other candidates were, but that didn't matter to them. They were there to elect Orrin Hatch.

    I've been told that many other precincts had the same "elect Uncle Orrin" mentality.

    When I voted at the primary election, some voters asked me who was running! That shows how much we need representatives who don't think that voting is some kind of Lark, but a duty with the responsibility to be informed on the issues and on the candidates.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 6:09 a.m.


    One needs to merely look at who is fighting the hardest to keep the caucus system. Follow the money folks! The Sutherland Institute and Eagle Forum. Why do they want to keep the caucus system so bad? So they can continue to jam caucuses full of their delegates. This does our reps a disservice in that they feel intimidated and must represent the radical right wing agenda rather than the more moderate Utah voter.

    The only way to fix this is for Count My Vote to pass. I want my voice to be heard. I'm tired of bought off delegates from the Eagle Forum and Sutherland Institute and ALEC stealing our elections.

  • E. Hindman Ogden, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 5:02 a.m.

    Thank you Mr. Nebeker, nicely stated.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    Feb. 18, 2014 4:52 a.m.

    Well said, Gerald Nebeker -- you show hat you have a clue. Thank you for really understanding what goes on with a caucus.