Guaranteeing that Every Republican’s Vote Counts in Utah

The Creed of Joni's Front Porch

This is a brief description of my belief system, in case you question it.

Quiet moments can be thoughtful times to contemplate.  I love Utah’s caucus system and as Winnie the Pooh might say, I have been “puzzling and puzzling” over solutions. Like Winnie the Pooh I don’t claim to be a great attorney or knowledgeable scholar, but sometimes when you love something and know the value of it, you feel protective of it.  You get easily defensive of it when it is criticized, so I ask my fellow Republicans to step back, sit in a quiet place and consider my proposal.  This is a very simple solution to a complex problem, although it will put many of you out of your comfort zones I hope you all realize I propose this with the sincerest of intentions:

I propose that IF the Republican Party of Utah REALLY wants every Republican’s vote to count, we should make these changes to our Caucus & Convention system:

  1. Each precinct in the State of Utah would have their own website designed by a State Party Committee. Candidates for office could self nominate, upload their pictures, a video, endorsements, their bios, and a statement about themselves. It would also provided contact and location information for caucus times, locations, host names and methods to affiliate.
  2. Prior to caucus meetings those who would like to attend but may have conflicts, would be allowed to print off an absentee ballot generated from the precinct website and turn it into the caucus host any time before the meeting adjourns.
  3. Candidates for offices would not be required to be present to run. (With the ability to post ahead of time, their willingness to serve and their point of view, anyone who wishes to run for any office can make their case and be seriously considered in their absence.)
  4. Results would be announced at the close of caucus elections
  5. That the threshold to avoid a Primary Election be raised to 70% of the delegate vote at the State Nominating Convention. (This will allow for the consideration of a greater number of candidates. A Primary Election makes our candidates better and more seasoned before a General Election.  If we have a candidate that is so oooba-remarkable that we all love them dearly we can support them enough to bypass a Primary Election.)

Summation: This proposal will allow people who have valid reasons for being unable to participate on caucus nights to be fully vested and considered in the caucus system. This sends a clear message that the Utah GOP is committed to making sure that rural counties are represented in the caucus system and that the UTGOP doors are open to all willing to enter. Representative government is what we believe in – “A democracy withing a republic, a sovereign nation of many sovereign states, a perfect union, one and inseparable…”

Losing the right of citizens to elect people that represent their local issues and neighborhood views will be the outcome if we continue to say we welcome all voices, but don’t make accommodations for them to be heard. This is my good faith effort.

8 thoughts on “Guaranteeing that Every Republican’s Vote Counts in Utah

  1. That may satisfy the state central committee but I really don’t think it satisfies either the public or the folks pushing the ballot initiative. I was a bit surprised at how scc members were unwilling to put themselves in ‘outsiders’ shoes. To me the bottom line is that the people pushing the initiative want primaries. And the public overwhelmingly view the current system as a few insiders choosing candidates. You can argue until you are blue in the face but the data says that the current systems loses and you have at best suggested relatively minor tweeks.

  2. Joni,

    I appreciate your attempt at correcting a “perceived” problem. The fact is that there is not a problem with our current caucus system. It makes elected office reachable by all good candidates, not just those with money. Those who are attacking our system our those whose “ideas” do not resonate with informed Republican delegates. They have money to spend but they lack ideas, personality, charm, charisma, and the ability to lead. Because of this, they know that their greatest chance to obtain elected office is to run in a primary where they could outspend their opponents and buy the votes of the general population with clever and deceptive advertising. In a caucus they are required to convince informed delegates that they are best person for the office.

    The only valid complaint of the last caucuses were the huge crowds that showed up. We were not sufficiently prepared and the caucus night took too long. I would recommend that each county reduce the precinct sizes. I don’t buy the complainant ” I was not able to attend my caucus or precinct meeting because of a scheduling conflict.” If people want to attend they need to make arrangements. There have been times when I could not make a meeting but I did not expect the meeting organizer to jump through hoops to accommodate me when others made the meeting without issue. Again, this is NOT the issue with those who are attacking the caucus system. As I mentioned above, it is the issue of “electability.”

    Our system is not broken or antiquated. In fact, most of the highly contested elections in Utah over the last year went to a primary. One last thing, primaries exhaust the financial resources of candidates and often result in the winner being the one who spent the most money, not the best candidate.

    Thanks for your concern, but the solution is to educate the average Utah voter about the value of our caucus system, not to fall into the trap that our detractors have set.

    • Phil you will be surprised to know that most of the SCC themselves see that problems exist, I thought like you did until I started actually asking hundreds of Republicans who did not participate. I will let you respond to the comments as they are posted, you will be surprised.

  3. 1. The overhead of assembling over 2200 precinct websites would be daunting, logistically and financially for the UTGOP. There has got to be a better way to do this.

    2. There would need to be some serious structure for this: unique ID numbers for each Repub, cutoff dates for registration that give the military people time to get their ballots in etc. The main gripe is that we can’t handle absentee voting so that needs to be addressed somehow. Lots to worry about here!

    3. This has always been the case.

    4. You wouldn’t be able to do this if we were going to facilitate absentee voting or let the military people mail their stuff in. It would probably take an extra week. No big deal if we move caucuses to odd years instead of even ones!

    5. No problem here but what if the Democrats keep theirs at 60%? How is that fair for us? Also, given who the Caucus/Convention opponents are, we probably only need the 70% threshold for statewide races. Why do this for all other races if we don’t need to?

  4. I agree with phil. People who want to get involved will take time and spend effort to to learn how it works. Joni’s tweaks are useful upgrades. Very few other activities really can’t be rescheduled or skipped. I know some people voice objections to the caucus-convention system. I find most criticism to be more idle and self-excusing. Other critics are are trying to preserve the traditional party vs. Conservative insurgents. Still other critics are more interested in breaking up Republican dominance in Utah. I really think the system is basically fine. The two-track to primary is for the birds. It’s designed to flood the field with Republicans so Democrats have a chance.

  5. These are excellent and thoughtful suggestions. I have been suggesting something very similar to #5 for a while but when I do people react as if I had just offered to kidnap their firstborn child. Change is hard, but it can bring growth and improvement.

  6. Votes can be cast before the meeting in which candidates will be nominated, give speeches, and answer questions? Where’s the sense in that? If the goal is for every vote to count, then we ought to dispense with the caucus system AND primaries. In fact, we ought to dispense with representative government altogether and just register our votes online on a daily basis on every matter that grabs our attention!

    • No Susan, people who wish to vote for their candidate of choice could vote absentee or get permission for a proxy to vote on their behalf. There are many legitimate reasons people may or may not be able to make it to vote on caucus night and if they are registered republicans they have a right to cast a vote in their neighborhood on how they will be represented. We are just encouraging people to come up with some smart ideas to help us include more people from our party on those nights.

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