Utah 2012 elections start with caucuses

Mar 11 2012 - 8:54pm

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LAYTON -- A presidential election, and encouragement over the pulpit, should bring a high number of Top of Utah residents out to attend their respective political party neighborhood caucus meetings -- the ground floor level of state and national politics.

"The indications are, that there is a lot of interest this year," Weber County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Olsen said.

Olsen said he credits the interest to the presidential election slated for November, and to the LDS Church for encouraging its members to attend their respective caucus meetings.

Democratic Party caucus meetings will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, while Republican Party caucus meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday. At the neighborhood meetings, members of both parties will select the delegates who will represent their views at the respective party nominating conventions to be held in April.

Because of the important role caucuses play in having a representative form of government, and due to dwindling attendance at the neighborhood meetings, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, over the pulpit, has requested that its area church leaders hold no meetings March 13 and March 15, to allow members to participate in the process.

"In Utah, we elect our neighbors to vote for us in conventions," Davis Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Smith said in a prepared statement.

The people from the neighborhood elected as delegates determine whose name or names appear on the June primary and November general election ballot, Smith said.

"This is a system that allows you to get involved at the grass roots level, which is very good," he said.

However, the chamber does not take political positions on parties or candidates, but supports the established political system, Smith said.

For additional information on caucus meeting locations Davis and Weber County Democrats can visit weberdemocrats.org or www.davisdems.org, or call 801-872-3367.

Davis and Weber County Republicans can visit www.utgop.org for caucus locations.

Those wanting to attend their neighborhood caucus meeting regardless of party affiliation are welcome, but to vote in the GOP caucuses attendees must be registered Republican, with party officials offering registration on-site.

But while Republicans require its caucus attendees to be registered Republicans to participate in their meetings, area Democrats have opened their caucus meetings to anyone.

"We welcome everyone to the Democratic caucuses," Davis County Democratic Party Chairman Brett Garner said.

"You do not need to be a registered Democrat to participate, or be elected to an delegate position," he said.

"This is the very basic place where people can be involved in the political process," Davis County Republican Party Chairwoman Kris Kimball said.

Having a voice in the political process begins at the caucuses, Kimball said, "and so when citizens choose not to attend the meetings, they are opting out of having a voice as to who will represent them in state government and national government."

With statewide redistricting shifting district borders, officials recommend attendees make certain they attend the right caucus meeting, arrive early and bring photo I.D. with them.

One change with Weber County's Republican Party caucuses this year, is most of the caucuses will be held in public buildings, Weber County Republican Party Chairman Matthew Bell said.

"Most of our caucus meetings were held in people's homes. Most of them this year will be held in public locations," Bell said, anticipating a large turnout.

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