Our View: GOP should heed 'Count My Vote'

Monday , September 30, 2013 - 12:40 PM

Editorial Board, Standard-Examiner

The Utah Republican Party should heed a warning from its party chairman, which is that there is an excellent chance that “Count My Vote,” a bipartisan initiative that seeks to replace caucuses with direct primary votes, will succeed.

Republican Party Chairman James Evans is opposed to “Count My Vote,” but he warned the GOP governing board that without easing the caucus rules, “Count My Vote” will succeed. Prior to Evans’ warning, the governing council had rejected a proposal that would require candidates to get 65 percent support at a caucus if caucus attendance is below 15 percent of party membership. The current rules have a 60 percent plateau to achieve the nomination at the caucus. If the required percentage of votes are not attained, the two top vote-gathering candidates meet in a primary.

After Evans’ warning, the governing council relented some, allowing the proposal to stay alive. “Count My Vote,” as mentioned, would do away with the caucus and allow all candidates to move to a primary. We believe a primary is the most inclusive system. The caucuses are a reflection of citizen populism, and that has been a positive. However, the caucus system also prevents many from having a voice in choosing their party’s candidate. And the low percentage of voters in recent elections may be a reflection of the state caucuses being dominated by political factions which are outside the mainstream. Utah should join most of the nation in implementing a primary voting system.

To move to a statewide initiative in 2014, “Count My Vote” needs to be approved by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. After that, a series of town hall meetings need to occur and organizers must gather 102,000 signatures from 26 of 29 counties. The GOP in Utah needs to heed the “Count My Vote” movement. If it can maneuver its way through Utah’s tough initiative requirements, it’s our opinion it will pass. Minor modifications to the caucus system by the state Republican Party probably won’t be enough to sway voters to retain the current caucuses.

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