Count My Vote initiative resurfacing, aiming to change the election process in Utah

For several years the Count My Vote group has pushed to change Utah’s system of nominating political candidates who could only become their party’s nominee by being selected in a caucus and convention, then competing in a primary election.

Now, Count My Vote has announced that it has filed an initiative petition with the state elections office.

On KVNU’s For the People program on Thursday, Count My Vote Executive Director Taylor Morgan was the guest. He said, clearly because we have had the caucus-convention system in Utah we see far more participation in primary elections than we do in the caucus-convention process.

“We saw what happened in the 3rd Congressional District primary a few months ago,” Morgan explained. “We saw that the fifth place candidate at convention handily won the primary election. In fact, seven out of 10 voters who participated in the primary voted for someone other than the candidate who won at convention.”

Count My Vote is actually re-starting an effort abandoned in 2014 when the group’s backers struck a deal with state lawmakers.

One of those lawmakers who would be affected by the new initiative is State Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan. He says if the petition passes, it would mean that he and other office holders wanting to run again would have to go the signature route in order to get on the ballot.

Count My Vote leaders have said they have $1 million in pledges from supporters, more than enough to pay to gather the 113,000 signatures of registered voters needed under state petition law to make the 2018 general election ballot. 

“Then the question is,” Hillyard asks, “will the majority of people vote for Count My Vote? If they win, there will be no more convention. Whoever wants to get on the ballot will have to go through the signatures.

“The way that Representative (Ed) Redd, Representative (Val) Potter and I tried we weren’t able to do it. The convention thing, having the convention pick the candidate for the party, will be a thing of the past.”

Count My Vote will now hold the required public hearings across the state and then move toward gathering their 113,000 signatures.

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