McAdams Endorses Direct Primary Voting System

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D)
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D)

As the battle between supporters of the caucus system and direct primaries rages on, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams sent out an email to Democrats Thursday evening backing a change to direct primaries.

Utah is the only state in the nation without any alternative route to a primary ballot outside of victory in a convention.  As a result—when it comes to candidate selection—the role of the average voter is limited to voting once every 2 years on a caucus night that he or she might not be able to attend for any number of legitimate reasons. Today, I call on my fellow Democrats to change from that arcane system to one that is more inclusive, more democratic and one that throws open the door to greater participation by our citizens. I urge you to replace the caucus system with an open primary. -email from Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams to Democrats

Earlier this year at the State Republican Convention, Republican delegates voted down a proposal to change their voting system to open primaries, preferring to keep the current caucus system which allows candidates to skip a primary battle if they receive at least 60 percent of the delegate vote at convention.

The more establishment contingent of the Republican party was in favor of moving to direct primaries, where any member of a party who files to run for an office will automatically face each other in a primary vote by the public—rather than the delegates. However, the majority of Republican delegates opposed the idea, saying that it would have stripped their power to knock off long-time incumbents—such as when tea party challenger Mike Lee successfully beat  18-year Senator Bob Bennett.

The Democrats will ask the same question of their delegates at the State Democratic Convention on Saturday. So far, delegates have seemed to be split fairly evenly on which direction they’ll go with.

McAdams himself narrowly won at the 2012 Salt Lake County Democratic Convention, beating former Senator Ross Romero by 61.5 percent in the second round of voting.

2 Replies to “McAdams Endorses Direct Primary Voting System

  1. Sometimes the English language has a problem with too many meanings for a particular word or phrase. The subject of whether a candidate should be allowed to seek a party nomination in a primary, regardless of his or her support at a party meeting, needs a new phrase. “Open primary” already means too other different things. “Open primary” has been defined since 1907 in political science textbooks, and since 1972 in various US Supreme Court rulings, as a system in which any voter on primary day is free to choose any party’s primary ballot. That is a different subject on whether candidates should be able to get on a primary ballot without having substantial support at a party convention.

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