Members of the House Government Operations Committee voted this morning to advance a newly-minted compromise between legislators and organizers of the Count My Vote ballot initiative. But several members of the committee say they won’t support the bill when it reaches the House Floor.
Legislative leaders and Count My Vote organizers announced Sunday they’d come to an agreement on how candidates would be chosen for political races. The latest version of Senate Bill 54, sponsored by Republican Senator Curt Bramble, would keep Utah’s caucus and convention system intact, but give candidates an alternative route to the primary election ballot through a petition process. As part of the agreement, Count My Vote organizers say they’ll suspend their petition to move to a direct primary.
Several lawmakers in the committee, including Republican Representative Keith Grover expressed concerns that the proposal interferes with party politics. Grover, who said the bill quote “stinks”, voted to keep it alive anyway for further discussion on the House Floor.
“I totally understand the argument from the good Senator Bramble that he’s making about the possible need for a compromise,” Grover says. “I’m not convinced personally that we’ve got the signatures on the referendum. I really don’t. I think we should call their bluff and really go for it and see what happens.”
Senator Bramble warned the committee a vote against this bill is in essence a vote against the Caucus and Convention system.
“At the end of the day, we can do nothing and let the initiative go forward, which it will,” Bramble says. “And when it passes, all of the debate about the qualified political party falls by the wayside and the political parties will not be involved in the process. There will be no delegate convention system for the parties to at least preserve that opportunity to put their candidates on the ballot.”
Count My Vote leaders say they've already gathered 100,000 signatures. They’ll need about 2,000 more by April 15th in order to get the issue put on the November Ballot.