If you are one of the many Utah voters who are confused or angered by our crazy system of caucuses, you may have a chance to change things. Count My Vote has filed the necessary paperwork to begin to collect signatures that will place changing the way Utah chooses candidates to a primary system on the ballot in November 2014. Past polls have suggested more than half of Utah voters want to see a change.
The current system allows just a few delegates to decide who gets on the ballot and whether or not there is even a primary. If you have participated in your local caucus, you may have had some say in electing a delegate who would go to a party convention and select who runs.
Because people who feel passionately about issues tend to participate more, this can lead to extreme candidates making it on to the ballot. Case in point: Utah Senator Mike Lee is a product of this system. His extreme views gave him support in 2010 at the Utah State Republican Convention, and he was able to oust long-time moderate Senator Robert Bennett-R off the primary ballot where he probably would have had mainstream support. Lee is currently one of the leaders (along with Ted Cruz-R, Texas) of the group that wants to tie defunding Healthcare Reform to a possible government shutdown at the end of September.
Technically, political parties can make the change without going to the extreme of a ballot initiative. However, over the weekend, the Republican State Central Committee voted to keep the status quo. At the same time, Count My vote has raised more than $500,000 to fund their campaign. Powerful Utahns including former Governor Mike Leavitt-R, former Governor Norm Bangerter-R, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker-D, and Norma Matheson, widow of former Governor Scott Matheson-D and mother of Congressman Jim Matheson-D are supporting the cause.
The petition will require 102,000 signatures from all 29 legislative districts in the state.
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Source: Count My Vote, Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune