'Win-win solution' keeps Utah caucus system, adds direct primary

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  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    March 4, 2014 12:52 a.m.

    I agree--this is a lose-lose compromise. Whatever the CMV leaders told their rank-and-file, CMV has always been about allowing incumbents with large warchests (think Bob Bennett) to remain in office, or for well-heeled prospective candidates (think Josh Romney or Mike Leavitt) to get on the ballot by spending huge amounts of advertising money to get name recognition. That, in turn, translates into a primary win when uninformed voters arrive at the ballot box without having done any research about the candidates.

    I think there are a lot of well-meaning folks in the CMV movement, but what they are not realizing is that the neighborhood caucuses are the nuts and bolts of grass roots community action. We discuss the issues, we learn about the candidates, we elect our precinct officers, and then elect delegates who then represent our neighborhood in the convention and help select candidates who will in turn represent us well. Our last caucus meeting had more than 400 of our neighbors in attendance! That's a lot of people from one neighborhood, all of whose votes were counted!

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 3, 2014 1:56 p.m.

    To "Fred44" there already is a process for getting canidates onto the ballot that belong to political parties other than Republican and Democrat.

    According to Utah State Government Elections website this is what you do to become a canidate, regardless of political party:

    1. Get a minimum number of signatures, the number depends on the office you are seeking.

    2. Pay a small fee and complete an application for the office you are seeking.

    That is basically it.

    That means if you can get enough support, you can appear on the ballot for whatever position you want, as long as you can get enough people to sign your petition.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 3, 2014 12:52 p.m.

    I hope Herbert vetoes the legislation.

    I will not vote for my rep or senator if they support this bill.

    I particularly oppose the open primary. I guess the LDS 1st and 2nd Quorums of the Seventy should join with the College of Cardinals next time the Catholic Church needs to elect a new Pope, since affiliation does not matter when selecting (potential) leaders

  • Fred44 Salt Lake City, Utah
    March 3, 2014 12:23 p.m.

    Redshirt 1701,

    Since political parties are private organizations, why should the state pay for their primary elections? Let the republicans and the democrats and anybody else do that on their own dime. What we should do is create a process by which a citizen any citizen can get on the ballot without a R or D or anything else next to their name. That is a system I could go for.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 3, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    This is an interesting problem. What this law result in will be government telling a private organization how to do business. If the Republicans don't want open primaries, and their members want to maintain closed caucus meetings, why can't they? At the same time, if Democrats want to have open primaries then let them. All the state needs to do is tell all political parties and independant canidates the date of the primary election, and any deadline for getting on the ballot. Beyond that, let the parties do as they please.

  • ray vaughn Ogden, UT
    March 3, 2014 10:05 a.m.

    This comprise is a bad idea. The comprise will go the way of the late term liits bill. When a few years have passed legislators will quietly pass a bill to gut the bill and will return to the present caucus system.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    March 3, 2014 9:39 a.m.

    I can smell this "compromise" clear out in Kearns where I live and the wind usually blows from south to north. This is the worst bill I have ever seen and if Republicans on the hill don't realize that this is just as bad as the initiative, then they deserve to be voted out of office post haste.

    All the Count My Vote proponents want is to keep power. They don't want the little guys meddling in their plans because they know what is best for us.

    If people choose not to participate in the elections, that is their own fault. Penalizing those of us who participate is not in keeping with republican principles that our country was founded on.

    The state does not, and should not have any say in how candidates are chosen by the respective parties. Opening the door to a petition process to get on the ballot will result in massive fraud in elections. This is a bad move.

  • slow down Provo, UT
    March 3, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    I'll admit that it seems a little strange to have compromised when 2000 more signatures would have made a compromise unnecessary, unless there is reason to believe the voters would not have passed it. I don't know what the general mood across Utah is about that. So maybe the compromise really is a win. I'd like to know for sure, however.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2014 8:45 a.m.

    I need to examine the details of this, but I strongly suspect the Republicans and Democrats have joined forces to protect their duopoly, locking out third party candidates entirely. I would like to see a direct primary runoff system like California.

  • Eliot Genola, UT
    March 3, 2014 8:28 a.m.

    Why does the state endorse political parties by including party affiliation on the ballot? Remove party affiliation from every candidate on the ballot and much of the problem will go away. Candidates may file for office at the beginning of the year and then seek the nomination from a party if they wish. When candidates wins a nomination they have access to the party money and organization but not to free advertisement provided by the state when their party affiliation is printed on the ballot. If candidates do not win a party nomination they may remain on the ballot but do not have access to the party money or organization. Political parties may choose their nominees however they wish, be it through primary elections or a caucus/convention system. If people are worried about a general election winner receiving a plurality rather than a majority of votes, the state can institute preferential voting where voters rank candidates from best to worst.

  • Thoughtful Voter Spanish Fork, UT
    March 3, 2014 7:18 a.m.

    Lose-Lose might be a better way to describe this. It's a "compromise" hatched by the political elite designed to protect their stranglehold on power by "any means necessary". I find it interesting that rank-and-file CMV supporters are supposedly commenting against this as I'm on the other side of this issue and - as a neighborhood caucus supporter I can testify that this preserves none of the district accountability I find important under that system. This "compromise" protects the interests of monied incumbents. Period.

  • Furry1993 Ogden, UT
    March 3, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    I am very displeased that this "compromise" was reached. Like a lot of other people, I really wonder why the politicians are so adamant about keeping political power out of the hands of the people of Utah.

    At least, with this "compromise", unaffilitated voters will be able to vote in the direct primaries. Given the fact that Utah is a de facto one party state, with a lot of unaffiliatede voters, having their votes counted is a definite step in the right direction.

    Conventions should be used to determine party policies, not select candidates to go on the ballot (and limit who goes on the ballot to the person most likely to support the party extremes). If we are truly unable to get rid of the caucus system (due to the intrangence of the politicians in power), then I strongly suggest that it is time to raise the percentage of convention votes necessary to keep a candidate off a primary ballot to a level that will force primary elections in every political race. That will, at least, put the ultimate power to select the primary election candidate back in the hands of the peopole.

  • Clarifying Facts Lehi, UT
    March 3, 2014 6:59 a.m.

    A potential problem is that current SCt precedent says the state (via legislature or citizens) can't force parties to allow unaffiliated voters to vote on party nominees. The state GOP intentionally preserved their rights by not agreeing on all details, so they could sue to get the primary back to closed. (There could be backlash or the court could revisit and overturn precedent, since taxpayers pay for primaries). But this compromise primarily just helps the well heeled overcome the caucus system. As for SJR15, such blanket leeway could be challenged. But even if it were upheld, the answer is nonpartisan primaries. SJR15 only dictates that the state can't interfere with party processes for selecting their nominees, but nothing guarantees parties the right to get exclusive control over who makes it to the General. If we moved to nonpartisan blanket primaries (could let more than top-two advance and incorporate IRV), SJR15 couldn't stop that. Parties would be free to endorse people however they please, but that endorsement wouldn't have the power of an automatic nomination, let alone an exclusive one. The people, not the parties, should determine who gets to the general election.

  • Peter R Provo, UT
    March 3, 2014 6:55 a.m.

    I also feel betrayed by the Count My Vote organizing committee. This is not why I knowingly and happily signed this initiative. I think the most telling of the 3 reasons given in the article, though is this: "Finally, SB 54 neutralizes the impact the intiative would have had, so Count My Vote supported the bill for the good of Utah voters."

    In other words, the legislature is doing all it can to make sure that a public initiative cannot get on the ballot and, if it does, doesn't have any teeth. This is political meddling at its finest (politicians vs. the people). Likely, this is the solution CMV organizers agree to b/c legislators have made it clear that they'll do whatever they can to scuttle the process.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 3, 2014 1:02 a.m.

    Volunteers on both sides wanted more participation.
    CMV has always been about their Rolls Royce road to the ballot for the rich and famous and the compromise shows it.

    I believe CMV made serious mistakes from day one. They never had a "bill" worth becoming law (poorly drafted) and their constitutional brief was just discovered to be as poorly done. They hired a group to get signatures that brought in out of state people that would say anything to get signatures, they totally blew handling the packets, leaving them at coffee shops, and churches unattended, and then using the Washington Co. education system email and buildings to distribute packets. That doesn't even cover not telling Sandy Area Chamber that they would have to file with the Lt. Gov. office, along with other major corporate donors. They were loosing every public debate. They made mistakes from missed filing before the public hearings to the hearings themselves and the schedule of them.

  • Creaver Sandy, UT
    March 3, 2014 12:16 a.m.

    When is signed the Count My Vote petition, I didn't authorize the Count My Vote committee to negotiate away the stated principles of the petition. This is an utter betrayal of all signers and donors, who should demand that their money be returned.

  • Optiri Orem, UT
    March 3, 2014 12:00 a.m.

    With this compromise you have won and the caucus has lost. With this change to the system a Mike Lee may make it out of convention but it would now allow a Bob Bennett to be added to the primary by getting enough signatures where he will likely win against a Mike Lee. Yea, the majority wins but I fear freedom looses because the majority in this case are easily swayed by dollars spent on ad campaigns and paid "experts" that "know better". The Utah caucus system was the last vestige of being able to elect trusted neighborhood delegates who could vet candidates and get around the hype of outside influence and "expert" sound bites and elect candidates to be voted on in the general election that were better representatives of the people at large and not of parties or special interests. I don't believe count my vote's underlying intent was to get more people involved in elections more than solidifying politics as usual by doing so. You were sold a bill of goods under false pretenses and as you found were bated and switched. They got what they wanted but the people not so much!

  • Sal Provo, UT
    March 2, 2014 11:07 p.m.

    Did anyone bother to ask Utah voters if they wanted a compromise? We didn't and don't. We want to get rid of the caucus system. We have been sold out by the Count My Vote organizers. I still plan to work against my legislators if they vote for this compromise.

  • On the other hand Riverdale, MD
    March 2, 2014 10:48 p.m.

    It's unfortunate that Utah politicians are so focused on keeping political power out of the hands of the people. It's even more unfortunate that most Utahns probably haven't noticed.

  • Paul8777 Brigham City, UT
    March 2, 2014 8:30 p.m.

    Like many other Count My Vote volunteers, I feel used and betrayed by Count My Vote. Count My Vote was working behind the scenes on this bill while publicly and actively campaigning against it. The best explanation I've been able to get so far seems to be "Relax, this is the way politics works." I didn't sign on as a volunteer so that politics as usual could be perpetuated. We're told that this bill will give us "the best of both worlds" i.e., both caucuses and an open primary. However, I suspect that it will give us the worst of both worlds: a caucus system that continues to spew out extremist candidates and an open primary that only the well heeled can benefit from. I hope to be proven wrong. Meanwhile, SJR15 seems to be working its way forward, and if enacted, will amend the Utah Constitution to give political parties powers they don't currently enjoy, and making another run at a Count My Vote type of initiative impossible.