One of the hottest debates taking place within political circles this year is the idea of dropping the caucus system in favor of direct primary voting to determine who should appear on the November ballot. Currently, only select party delegates decide between party candidates and the public only gets involved if the majority of delegates can not decide on a particular candidate.
The Count My Vote (CMV) coalition is actively working to change this by switching the process over to a direct primary system. In a direct primary system, the public decides the top candidates in each particular political party and then the winners in each party face off against each other come November. CMV contends that this process is more democratic and ensures that all people are involved in the political process. CMV and its supporters also contend that this process helps moderate candidates, as they have to appeal to a wider audience in order to appear on the deciding ballot. Opponents argue that the current system does a better job of holding candidates responsible as a small group of highly involved individuals will hold lawmakers accountable and that it is easier for candidates with little to no money to break into politics if only because they have to spend time and energy convincing a handful of people of their ability to lead.
This entire debate was started in earnest when Republican delegates swept former Utah Senator Bob Bennett out of office in favor of Mike Lee. Moderate Republicans feared a complete takeover of the party by far right Tea-Party activists and began investing heavily to change the system from the inside. This plan would ultimately fail as Republicans and Democrats voted within their respective parties to keep the system the way it is. CMV organized soon after to petition the citizens of the state to formally change the law through the ballot box.
Representative Kraig Powell (Republican – Heber City) clearly agrees with the mission of CMV with his proposed HB 69 – Primary Election Process Amendments. The bill will achieve the goals of CMV outright if it were to pass by requiring a primary election whenever two or more people are fighting within a political party to receive a nomination to appear on the November ballot.
There is a slight workaround with the bill. If political parties choose not to participate in the primary process, they could still nominate candidates through the convention system, though the candidate that is ultimately chosen would not have their party affiliation listed on the ballot. If Republicans or Democrats truly want to hold tight to the current system, they are welcome to do so, with the understanding that it can be a risky venture to omit one’s political party due to straight-ticket voting.
The ideas of CMV are very mixed among Republican lawmakers. In a bit of irony, if HB 69 were to pass, it could be due to overall support from Democrats. Yes, Democrats could be the ultimate decider in a process that started with Republican in-fighting.
To contact Representative Powell, Click Here or call 435-654-5986
Impact on Average Utahn:
High Impact 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 No Impact
Need for Legislation:
Necessary 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Unnecessary
Sound Legislation 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . 1 . 0 Clunker