Utah’s governor says the legislature should be cautious about interfering with a citizen initiative on how candidates for public office are nominated.
The Count My Vote initiative would replace Utah’s caucus and convention system for nominating state party candidates with a direct primary election. The initiative needs 102,000 signatures by April 15th to get on the November general election ballot. But a bill now moving through the state senate would force state party leaders to significantly change the current caucus convention system or accept a direct primary. Governor Gary Herbert told reporters at his monthly news conference on KUED a veto is on the table if Senate Bill 54 comes to his desk, though he’s not planning on it just yet.
Herbert supports the current system, but he says the legislature needs to be careful. "I’m also concerned, though, about the legislature saying to the people, under their constitutional right to have an initiative petition, that we are going to anticipate what you’re going to do and consequently be perceived to be gaming the system to thwart the will of the people.”
SB 54 is sponsored by Senator Curt Bramble, a Republican from Provo.
Rich McKeown, a leader of the Count My Vote group, says there’s not much prospect for a compromise.
“I have met with Senator Bramble," McKeown tells KUER, "and, frankly, I think he has laid on the table a bill that attempts to circumvent the will of the people.”
Debate on Senate Bill 54 is scheduled for Thursday morning at 11:00 in the Utah Senate chamber.