Late in 2013, the Count My Vote initiative was beginning to recruit volunteers to obtain the required signatures and end Utah’s delegate nomination system. The petition organizers believe that the state’s antiquated nomination system allows extreme political factions to dominate the political election process.
Count My Vote Utah recently obtained the endorsement of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, the former and current Salt Lake County mayors, and former Governor and Health and Human Services cabinet officer Mike Leavitt. Critics point to reduced ballot access by the Latino community, the gay and lesbian communities, and for those who are unaffiliated with either Republican or Democratic parties. Some voters feel that neighborhood delegates replaced by a party primary ballot would make the nomination process more expensive and thus out of reach of many in Utah.
Just before this footage was edited, Governor Gary Herbert returned from Washington, D.C. and meetings with the National Governors Association and with President Obama, to a press conference at his state capitol office where he emphasized his budget priorities for the state.
Senator Curt Bramble (Republican – Provo) answered the Count My Vote citizen’s petition by authoring and introducing SB 54, which would all but negate the initiative. Count My Vote and SB 54 are each vying for voter attention in Utah where the unique delegate nomination system is the last of its kind in the nation.
Count My Vote often points to the flaws of the delegate system by citing former Utah Senator, Bob Bennett (Republican) and how he lost his seat at the primary level to Mike Lee at the height of Tea Party popularity. At the time, delegates from the far right were outraged that Bennett had voted for the economic bailout proposed by George Bush’s Treasury Secretary Henry Poulson, and Bennett was turned out of office before the general election was even held.
Current polling indicates that the Tea Party delegates and their extremist views may have to take a more subdued role in Utah state politics. The LDS Church has encouraged its Utah membership to attend their neighborhood caucus meetings, scheduled in March.
This clip illustrates how the issues and the political players are rushing to converge on specific public policy topics that Utahns feel are the most important in the state.