Saturday, December 17, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune Guest Editorial: Utah’s Archaic Convention System

Duelling editorials: What about abolishing Utah's "quirky," one-of-a-kind caucus/convention candidate nomination system and substituting a direct primary nomination system?
Can the caucus system improve? Absolutely. The problem is not the caucus system, it is low constituent participation. I agree with State Republic Chairman Thomas Wright, who said, “Let’s spend ... time and energy educating people ... and encouraging them to participate.”

Greg Erickson - Salt Lake Tribune
Keep Utah’s caucus system
December 10, 2011

Utah voters deserve to collectively decide who should be on the ballot. The direct primary nomination process works with enormous success in the election of municipal officers, and the sky has not fallen, nor are candidates bankrupted.
It’s high time to extend that system to legislative and statewide offices.

David R. Irvine - Salt Lake Tribune
Utah’s archaic convention system
December 17, 2011

Chewy Salt Lake Tribune guest Op-ed this morning from Salt Lake City-based attorney and former Utah House Representative and also former Davis County Republican Party Chair David R. Irvine, who responds to this earlier SL-Tribune Op-ed piece, and argues instead for abolition of Utah's "quirky," one-of-a-kind caucus/convention candidate nomination system and the substitution of a direct primary nomination system:
So what about it, Weber County Forum political wonks?

Is Utah District 23 Republican Senate candidate Greg Ericksen correct in his assertion that Utah's current caucus/convention nomination should be preserved, inasmuch as convention delegates (and precinct caucus attendees) are better prepared and more engaged, intelligent and in tune with the issues than regular citizens?

Or on the other hand does Mr. Irvine truly "nail it," when he points out that the present system is merely "a continuing testament to the corrupting influence of unregulated money in our election process and the desire of incumbent legislators to make their re-election as easy as possible by providing a very effective way to kill off would-be opponents?"

Moreover, can Utah's paltry 15 percent participation by eligible voters in Utah’s "closed" primary elections (even on those rare occasions where such primaries are held) be explained by the fact that savvy Utah voters know the system has already been rigged in the party conventions?

Would the adoption of a direct primary nomination system, such as is successfully used in Utah local and municipal elections, significantly increase voter participation in state and federal elections?

So what say our Gentle Readers about all this?

The world-wide blogosphere is sitting on the edge of its seat, eagerly awaiting your always-adept utterances.


rudizink said...

Just to get the conversation going, I'll give ya'll a little glimpse into my caucus experiences during the past few years. Over the course of a dozen years, I served as GOP precinct Chair for five ( 5) neighborhood precinct caucuses in my neighborhood.

Here's my experience.  During none of these "preliminary events" did I every see those " better prepared and more engaged, intelligent and in tune with the issues" caucus attendees. 

What I did see was this:

1) Politically detached and politically unengaged people, roped up  from the local wardhouse, who actually complained that their sole issue, i.e., the ELECTION of my neighbor Boss Godfrey to be a State Convention delegate, didn't come up for a vote "quite fast enough."

2) A Group from one of the pro-banking groups, who showed up in droves, when the tension between greedy  Banks and (more or less non-blood sucking)  Credit Unions was the hot political issue.  I actually had to go down to my basement to lug up a dozen or so chairs, just so these people could find a way to "park" their butts. 

Here's the upshot.  One of these banker people left a manual on one piece of my living room furniture that day, after the political meeting, entitled, "How to Overtake and Dominate A Utah Caucus Meeting"

Reminder to myself.  There's a document that I need to scan and upload.

Bottom line?  The Utah caucus system is about as far from Utah representative democracy as you can get.

Ray said...

Rudi: Was the document put out by the banking lobby another group or person?

rudizink said...

My vague recollection, Ray, is that it actually had the name of the particular "banking entity" on it.

Thanks though for posing the question though.  I'm rather anal in my record-keeping.  I NEVER throw anything like that away. 

I'll find, scan an upload this document, hopefully before the weekend is over.

D. Michael Martindale said...

Didn't the caucus system oust incumbent Bob Bennett?

rudizink said...

Yep.  And it also ousted Senate District 19's Dave Hansen and gave us the Godfreyite Jon Greiner... and the Uber Godfreyite Democrat shape-shifter Stuart Reid two years after that.

And you point is?....

Blackrulon said...

Many of the  supporters of the current caucus system argue that the selection  of US senators should be returned to the state legislators .They wish to repeal the 17th amendment to the constitution which allows the people to vote for Senato The current caucus system is what the 17th amendment repealed in senatorial elections.

Dmanhit said...

The way to encourage voter participation at all levels is to allow people to vote via computer from home using an access code and password for their precinct. Our most sensitive information on medical, financial and personal information is done via the internet, why not voting? Each eligible voter would be given an id number and password. Let's get all eligible voters voting. 

Blackrulon said...

That sounds great in theory but there are problems. The recent windstorm screwed up my internet connection. My server took 8 days to restore service. It would be very easy for a hacker to disrupt internet service or hack into the server to distort voting. I have some elderly neighbors who do not have a computer.

One Who Votes said...

There is a reason for the secret ballot and no one who is being controlled by another person or people, (some battered spouses, groups etc.,) would ever again have a vote.

Dmanhit said...

Voting by computer can still be a secret vote. Why do you have to go to a polling place?  Those that desire to vote at a polling place could still do so. If the bulk voted by home computer, it would lower the costs of elections and encourage many more people to vote. 

One Who Votes said...

It is a secret vote if you are free to vote as you choose.  Abused women are not free to vote, (or anything else,) as they choose if they are doing so in opposition to an abuser who can insist on being present for the process.   There can also conceivably be pressure or worse from groups or leaders of groups which means that the individual does not have the option of  xercising their franchise freely as in a secret voting booth.  Computer voting is a theoretically good idea if human nature were not what it is.  

One Who Votes said...


My reply post came in as most recent rather than a reply.  Sorry.

Dmanhit said...

The computer voting would not change anything for people that want to vote at a polling place for any reason. It would speed up the process for most Americans and reduce the cost of elections, most of which is payed by the taxpayers. Are we going to continue to sue a system hundreds of years old exclusively? I hope not.

 Computer access need not be at one's home, it could be in a Library, a neighbor's house or anywhere computers have internet access. The password and voter ID number would be with each person, not the computer.

Dmanhit said...

We can always find reasons not to progress, voting fraud, non qualified voters etc. These all happen now under our present system, why would they be any worse using a more efficient means for most of the people to participate and vote. It is terrible that we have such pathetic turn outs for primaries and elections. 

Blackrulon said...

Obviously you have not attempted to use the free computers at the Weber country Library. Among the current problems is the failure of the elevator. How are people with handicaps to get to the 2nd floor? The problem is not ease of voting. In the past Utah led the nation in voter turnout. The problem is that many people feel disenfranchised but to gerrymandering or the fact that legislators are beholden to their campaign contrubutors and donors. eliminate the corruption in the system and turnout will increase.

Dmanhit said...

Apparently, you are against any change to improve our voting system. What if the elevator in the polling place fails? What if there is a power outage and the lights are not working? You deal with it. That doesn't change  the fact that millions of Americans would be able to easily cast their votes and it would improve the election process. Maybe we should go back to buggy whips and horse drawn  transportation, all this modern stuff  has problems. Yes there may be problems, so what?  

rudizink said...

Interesting point you make, BR, regarding the out of service elevator at the Weber County Library Main Branch.  I'm a fairly regular visitor to that library, averaging no fewer than 4-5 visits per month, year round on average.

The last time I visited the main branch, maybe 2 weeks ago, the elevator was out of service; and I'm surprised that it hasn't been restored to service yet.

Bottom line, though, the out-of-service elevator actually wouldn't present much of a problem for Ogden voters during election periods, even if it were to remain unrepaired for an extended period, inamsuch as there are four or five user terminals located on the ground floor main level.  During the time that elections or or internet-hosted candidate nominations might occur in the scenario that Dmanhit suggests, these terminals could be easily reserved for voters with handicaps.
Dmanhit's suggestion is interesting, to say the least; and I do believe it's something that ought to be further explored.

Most of my own financial transactions (bill-paying, banking and securities trading) occur on the internet right now, and I'm fully convinced that these transactions are absolutely secure.

In that connection, I have no doubt that online candidate nomination or voting transactions could be conducted with the same high levels of password and identity verification that characterize my own transactions; so I thus find Dmanhit's suggustions to be most tantalizing.

googlegirl said...

How To Rig An Election In Just A Few Easy Steps

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