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.
Leaders of the Count My Vote ballot initiative appeared with legislative leaders at a rare Sunday news conference to announce a compromise on the effort to replace Utah’s caucus-convention system for nominating political candidates.
The deal preserves the caucus system, but it also allows candidates to get on a primary election ballot by gathering voter signatures on a petition – from one thousand for a legislative seat to 28-thousand for a statewide office such as governor.
Organizers of The Count My Vote Initiative can now add Mitt Romney to their group of supporters. If passed, the proposal would move Utah to a direct primary election system. But a bill moving through the legislature could keep the current caucus system intact.
Mitt Romney has endorsed the Count My Vote initiative in Utah, but Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT3) said Monday he is opposed to changing the state’s nomination process from a caucus-convention system to direct primaries. In his annual address to the state legislature, Chaffetz told lawmakers he could never have beat incumbent Chris Cannon without the caucus system. He said he didn’t have big name ID, and he didn’t have big money, but he did spend time talking with delegates.
A bill that would force political parties in Utah to change the current caucus and primary system cleared a hurdle in a Senate committee on Friday. SB 54 would mandate that parties raise the threshold for office nominations to 65 percent of the delegate vote – up from 60 percent. It would force parties to allow absentee voting at neighborhood caucus meetings and state party conventions.
A group that wants to change Utah’s caucus-convention system for nominating candidates began its campaign this morning. Count My Vote wants to allow candidates to qualify for primary election ballots using petitions signed by voters.
The group’s leaders include former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and Norma Matheson, the wife of Utah’s last Democratic governor and the mother of Congressman Jim Matheson. She says the current system leaves too many voters out of the nomination process.