Caucus meetings aren't representative or democratic

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  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 26, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    I see the DN, for whatever reason, chose to block a comment I made that did not deviate one iota from their stated policy.

    I'll try again

    a couple of posters said CMV was responsible for forcing open the republican primary to dems and other non-repubs.

    This is totally not true.

    open primaries were forced by Curt Bramble of the state senate. It was Bramble who insisted the primary be open as part of the "compromise".

    To blame CMV for the open primary is like blaming a victim for the crime that has been perpetrated against him. Totally unfair and untrue

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 26, 2014 12:33 p.m.

    To "Kerry Soelberg" it sounds like you don't know your neighbors very well. At the caucus meeting for my area I saw a lot of my neighbors there, and the people I didn't know were known by people that I did know. If I wanted to know more about some of the people there I had at least 3 other people that I trusted who could tell me more about most anybody there.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 26, 2014 9:41 a.m.

    All this effort... just to get Mike Lee?? Changing our whole system... just to get Mike Lee?

    And in the end... you're probably still going to get Mike Lee.... what will you do then?


    If you are so obsessed with getting Mike Lee... there are other ways you could do it. Just get a better candidate. Or put together a better campaign! But you don't have to destroy the system just to get rid of one politician you don't like. There will always be one or more politicians representing you who you don't like. The same politician can't be every person's favorite. You can't win every one. Someone will not like whoever we elect!

    All this Mike Lee's gotta go stuff is just amazing. And even changing our whole political system just to get him. Why not just get more votes for YOUR guy (in the general election)?


    IMO... Mike Lee is not worth all this. Bennett is not worth all this.

    I think the exact same people will win whether we do away with Caucuses or not...

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 26, 2014 9:15 a.m.

    @FT 4:29 p.m.,
    RE: "We see that now and have taken corrective action to help us bring Mike Lee home in 2016."...

    You seem confident you can bring Mike Lee home IF you can destroy the caucus system.. Something you may have forgotten to think about... Who are you going to replace him with?

    You still need someone better who will get more votes. Who is that? Mike Lee is still popular with many of those crazy T-party type Utahns. Don't count your chickens yet.


    @Really??? 7:43 a.m.,
    RE: "Personally, I believe that if people can vote for any candidate in the general elections, they should also be able to vote in the primaries"...

    So why even have a party primary and a general election? If the same people vote in both... why not just vote once?

    The Party Primary is SUPPOSED to be the PARTY picking it's nominee (not Democrats, or independents picking the Republican's nominee). Everybody in the State gets to vote in the General Election.

    If everybody votes in the party primary (not members of the party)... why not just call it the general election?

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    March 26, 2014 7:43 a.m.

    "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!"

    Either you are for the voice of the people or you don't. Personally, I believe that if people can vote for any candidate in the general elections, they should also be able to vote in the primaries. That's true representation of the people.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    March 25, 2014 10:24 p.m.

    Those who don't believe in principle hate Mike Lee. What good is someone in office who doesn't believe in the constitution? Mike Lee is the best senator this state has ever had and perhaps our country. If you don't care about the constitution and want someone that makes their own rules, by all means, vote him out of office. I think it is quite obvious that our country is suffering from those who believe that the Constitution is in the way of progress and that dictators are preferred over those who protect citizens in their unalienable rights! Vote Mike Lee out and you can have what you really want, representatives who are masters, rather than servants!

  • SAS Sandy, UT
    March 25, 2014 8:42 p.m.

    @ Mike Richards:

    "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). "

    Funny, I thought we had a Supreme Court to debate and interpret the Constitution. Boy, was I wrong! It turns out that the ultimate arbiter of Constitutional principles are is some guy on the Internet who claims to be from South Jordan.

    Because, of course, there are no ambiguities in the Constitution. No room for disagreements in a democratic society. Perish the thought.

  • arod Ogden, UT
    March 25, 2014 8:32 p.m.

    Excellent article. Support your view.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 25, 2014 8:21 p.m.

    MIke... you say or claim "There are many planks in each platform, but each plank is decisive."... and yet your proof points clearly are not a decisive as you think. For example, you claim only Republicans believe that one should take care of their families. That is as about absurd as saying only Democrats care for the poor. Neither of these is the sole providence of either... bot parties believe in both principles. It is a matter of "how" to achieve those ends where the difference lies.

    Even alleged clear items, abortion, are as clear cut as you pretend they are. Over 60 of Democrats don't believe in abortion on demand. And over 40 percent of republicans approve of abortions... a good number of them have had them.

    The point is people are multifaceted. They don't fit on two neat and nice boxes. In fact, most people agree on more than they disagree with.... even Republicans and Democrats.

  • ShaunMcC La Verkin, UT
    March 25, 2014 8:09 p.m.

    @utahbluedevil. Actually the caucus system is a throwback to the principles of a Republic which is what we say we are and what the Constitution created. Democracy is rule over minorities by the majority. A Republic allows each neighborhood to have representatives to the county and state decision making bodies whether those are political conventions or State Legislatures. Those delegates were also charged with determining the best candidates for Federal office to represent the state. In the case of US Senators, the state legislature was to pick them after being themselves picked by those same neighborhood representatives. In those days, you could call up or visit your neighborhood representative and tell him you were pleased or not with your US Congressperson or your state congressperson and they could actually be heard. Try getting to talk to your Federal office holders or even to someone who will talk to them. The caucus and precinct system is the best and most responsive of the systems around, but only if everyone chooses to get involved. And only if each of us actually makes our opinions known. Step up and be involved. Please.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    March 25, 2014 7:47 p.m.

    Going to a caucus and actually talking to other people is a much better system than names on a primary ballot.
    "I think I'll vote for the first one. I like the sound of his last name. The other sounds like he's from some other country."
    "I had a roommate with that same last name. I wonder if they are related."
    We vote for soundbites.
    I'm for any system that allows us to talk about candidates and even hear about them from people who have actually met them.

  • JenicaJessen Riverton, UT
    March 25, 2014 7:30 p.m.

    A "low information voter"?

    My father has long been either neutral towards or supportive of the caucuses. This year I convinced him to actually attend one.

    He watched as I got elected as a state delegate without anyone even running against me. He watched as people declared that they had more of a right to pick candidates than anyone else because they bothered to show up (despite the fact that half my ward had left their kids with the other half, who were still at home.) He watched as the precinct chair declared that he was running for a local office, and as his wife and two sons nominated and elected each other as delegates so that they could go vote for him.

    My father had long been a supporter of the caucus system, until he "got informed" and attended one. Now he is not.

    "Getting informed" and "participating" are not synonymous with "drinking the Tea Party's Kool-Aid."

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    March 25, 2014 7:01 p.m.

    I agree with this article.
    I went to this last caucus. Apparently the caucus system is feeling guilty about not allowing everyone a vote such as those that can't attend so now there can cast absente ballots. That is laughable, because at least in my precinct you didn't even know who the delegates were or what they had to say unless you could attend, and only one preregistered as a possible delegate.
    Last I checked, Sen. Bennett and Hatch were Republicans. I'm not a fan of Sen. Lee. All the delagates in my precinct that I had to choose from seemed like far right tea party types that I would not choose to represent my vote. Its discouraging to spend over 2 hours of your time and not end up feeling like you are represented. Let me cast my own vote for who I want to represent me in political office! I don't need or want a representative to choose my representative! Ditto the majority of Utahn's!

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 25, 2014 5:53 p.m.

    Is "registering" as a Republican or as a Democrat that much of a "hardship" on us? We can easily read the platform of each party. That should be enough to tell us whether we agree with the Republican Platform or whether we agree with the Democrat Platform.

    If we believe that every human life is sacred, we will easily see which political party thinks that every human life is sacred.

    If we believe that every adult has a responsibility to provide for his own maintenance and for the maintenance of his family, we will easily see which political party holds those beliefs.

    If we believe that the borders should be closed so that no illegal immigrants can claim citizenship as Americans, then we will see which party believes the same.

    There are many planks in each platform, but each plank is decisive. Each plank shows the diametrically opposed views of the parties. If we think that someone who associates with a political party will suddenly change the way he votes (after receiving party money) we're only fooling ourselves.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    March 25, 2014 4:29 p.m.

    @ 2 bits
    Every poll at the time showed Bennett would have been re-elected in the General Election if he ran as an independent (a la Joe Lieberman in Conn.) but he chose to honor the GOP and it's nominee. He was not on the primary ballot, if he was, polls show he would have beat Lee or Dan as well. The caucus system kept the most preferred candidate off the ballot. The t-party and the uninformed right wing used the caucus system to keep him off the primary ballot. They won and Utahns lost. We see that now and have taken corrective action to help us bring Mike Lee home in 2016.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 25, 2014 4:14 p.m.

    People who volunteer to be delegates are not supposed to commit to who they will vote for at caucus. We don't even know who's running yet! We know next to nothing about most of the candidates the day of caucus meetings... How do you already KNOW who you will vote for??

    The purpose of the caucus meeting is to pick a manageable number of open-minded people that share our general values to represent us at Convention. A SMALL number of people so candidates can email them, have live meetings with them, answer their questions, and get to know them personally (not just the slick TV commercial persona).

    Who gets to be delegate is not critical. Getting to a manageable meet-able number is the job. You could draw names... As long as they commit to meet the candidates, ask questions, get answers, and vote at Convention (not just vote the list they committed to at Caucus when they knew nothing about the candidates).

    It's just impossible for all Utahns to meet with candidates face-to-face.

    So we should rely on TV commercials??

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 25, 2014 3:45 p.m.

    The problem with this letter is... it just finds fault. It gives no evidence that doing away with caucus meetings and the convention and relying on a primary alone would do any better.

    How do you know a primary would be better?


    @FT 2:08 p.m.,
    RE: "The irony of the caucus system is it gave us Mike Lee"....

    Not true. IF the convention vote selected a winner... it would have been Dan Liljenquist (He came in first at Convention, Mike Lee came in 2nd).

    The PRIMARY VOTERS gave us Mike Lee.
    IF the Delegates at convention got their way... we would have Liljenquist right now.

    So who are the raving radicals who wanted Mike Lee? Caucus people... or primary people?

    Is the problem the Caucus delegates (who voted for Liljenquist )... or the primary voters and general election voters? Note: (both elections selected Lee, not convention)

    I know this is all about Bennett... and the sour grapes are understandable. But he really wasn't that popular back then (you have to remember that).

    He was a Bushie (unpopular at the time), supported TARP, part of the team that killed the economy and skyrocketed the national debt...

  • tigger AMERICAN FORK, UT
    March 25, 2014 3:30 p.m.

    I couldn't go...spouse in hospital for surgery. That pretty much means I don't get to vote this year.

  • stuff Provo, UT
    March 25, 2014 3:17 p.m.

    1st, we are NOT a democracy. We are a republic. That means we choose people to represent us. The most basic level is the local level which includes a caucus meeting. At least you met your nearby neighbors. So, did I and I voted for several of them to represent me.

    2nd, you participated much more in the election process by attending a caucus meeting than you ever would by going to the polls and putting a checkmark by a few candidates names. At least, with the county and state delegate system, you have the opportunity to influence them much more than you could ever hope to influence the actual elected candidate.

    3rd, people, at all levels, should be honest and not negatively influence election results. For example, democrats should not vote for the least conservative or weakest republican candidate just to go against the strongest republican candidate. IMHO, that should technically be illegal but there's no way to prove it, so there are closed party elections, instead. That's fine.

    4th, you can't always get your way, even at the local, neighborhood level.

  • sherlock holmes Eastern, UT
    March 25, 2014 3:13 p.m.

    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.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    March 25, 2014 3:02 p.m.

    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.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 25, 2014 2:44 p.m.

    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.

  • topofutpatriot Logan, UT
    March 25, 2014 2:13 p.m.

    "A political party has a First Amendment 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.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    March 25, 2014 2:08 p.m.

    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.

  • utcyclist Draper, UT
    March 25, 2014 1:48 p.m.

    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.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 25, 2014 1:28 p.m.

    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.

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    March 25, 2014 12:46 p.m.

    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!!

  • Travis G Riverton, UT
    March 25, 2014 12:01 p.m.

    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.

  • Star Bright Salt Lake City, Ut
    March 25, 2014 12:00 p.m.

    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.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 25, 2014 11:21 a.m.

    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'.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 25, 2014 11:17 a.m.

    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.

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    March 25, 2014 11:17 a.m.

    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.

  • FT salt lake city, UT
    March 25, 2014 10:54 a.m.

    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.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 25, 2014 10:24 a.m.

    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.

  • Invisible Hand Provo, UT
    March 25, 2014 9:16 a.m.

    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?

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    March 25, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    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.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    March 25, 2014 8:41 a.m.

    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.

  • Utah_1 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 25, 2014 7:08 a.m.

    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.

  • PeanutGallery Salt Lake City, UT
    March 25, 2014 4:14 a.m.

    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.