The great caucus fracas of 2013-14 may finally be at an end as organizers of the citizen ballot initiative joined lawmakers who had sought to thwart their efforts, to announce a compromise bill that instead of replacing Utah's existing system for nominating and electing candidates would add onto it a new path to elect candidates through direct primaries.---
As City Weekly previously reported CMV was mobilizing a signature-gathering push to change Utah's system that uses delegates elected at caucus to nominate their party's candidates at county and state conventions. A system that critics say favors candidates on the fringes of the political spectrum while alienating many mainstream voters. Sen. Curt Bramble had advanced a bill that would have thwarted the Count My Vote effort, but after days of intense backroom negotiations lawmakers and CMV have called a truce, based on new tweaks to Bramble's legislation that would keep Utah's caucus-convention system while also allowing candidates to get their names on primary ballots by collecting voter signatures instead.This “dual” system is similar to six other states in the nation.
While the CMV petition process put the system that elected all of Utah's lawmakers in its crosshairs, Bramble says the objective of greater voter participation helped bring both sides together for a historic compromise.
“It's taken a great effort on behalf of the organizers and principals of Count My Vote as well as legislators to stay in the room, to be at the table and to find that principled compromise,” Bramble said at an unusual Sunday afternoon press conference at the capitol. Bramble's new substitute version of SB 54 would still allow more flexibility with current conventions allowing absentee voting by delegates.
For those seeking to go the primary route here's how the signature thresholds would break out:
For statewide office (U.S. Senate, Governor, Treasurer, Auditor, Attorney General)--28,000 signatures Congress—7,000 signatures
State Senate—2,000 signatures
State House of Representatives—1,000 signatures
All other—3 percent of registered voters in the respective jurisdiction
The bill would also allow give Utah's more than half a million unaffiliated voters the opportunity to vote in a party's primary election for the first time. CMV is still pushing forward on it's signature gathering with the understanding that it will abandon its efforts as soon as Bramble's bill has passed both houses and is signed into law by the Governor. After that Rich Mckeown says CMV will likely continue working as an organization advocating for voter engagement and political participation.
At the press conference it was clear that while there may be some opposition to this compromise that it had the backing of majority leadership in both houses to help carry the compromise/truce through the system.
To read SB 54 Second Substitute click here. To contact Sen. Bramble about his bill click here. To find your legislator to contact them about this bill click here. For more updates from the hill visit CityWeekly.net and follow @EricSPeterson and @ColbyFrazierLP on Twitter.