Saturday, November 30, 2013

Why this compromise isn't a compromise.

There are several ways to save fair elections in Utah, and this proposed bill is not the way to do it.  To have a real compromise you need to work with the parties on all sides. The Republican State Central Committee has been fighting on several related issues for a year. After months of hammering it out, on October 26, 2013 we were able to agree on meaningful changes. The key players on that compromise are not on board, let alone at the table of this proposed "compromise". The last thing we need is to go backwards and not forward. 

According to information we have on a proposed "compromise" law being proposed:

The following proposed changes and goals are part of the bill.
1. Allow absentee and remote voting in the neighborhood caucuses and allow more time for people to vote on line or by mail for their delegates.
2. Allow absentee and remote voting by delegates in the convention.
3. Allow unaffiliated voters to vote in party primaries.
4. Change the threshold for a candidate to win the party’s nomination outright at the convention, from 60 percent of the delegate vote to 65 percent. 

What has already passed the Republican State Central Committee?
Passed Resolutions from October 26, 2013
1. Resolution to Improve the Language of the Republican Party's System of Nominating Candidates
2. Resolution to Improve the Republican Party Neighborhood Caucus Election Experience by Recommending an optional Neighborhood Meet and Greet with Candidates
3. Resolution to Improve the Republican Neighborhood Caucus Election Check-In Process
4. Resolution to Improve the Republican Neighborhood Caucus Elections by Creating An Online Registration Process
5. Resolution to Allow Same-Day Balloting at Republican Neighborhood Caucus Election Meetings
6. Resolution on Participation by Individuals Engaged in Out of State Military and Religious Service at Neighborhood Caucus Elections

[updated rules as of Dec. 14, 2013


Response to the reported bill, and why the changes are no go at the start.
Goal 1. & 2. The Republican SCC has come up with a same day ballot for the neighborhood elections. While allowing a fire fighter or a mom with sick kids to have their voice heard that night, care was taken to make sure it would not decrease attendance at the meeting. Having an "absentee" ballot will take the "meeting out of the meeting". This is especially true of the convention. 

We want neighbors discussing the best candidates and finding ways to improve this state and the nation. If the system is changed, we would be dropping off votes, but not meeting and discussing candidates and issues. That is what is wrong with Washington, D.C. They don’t listen to each other in a meeting. They watch from their offices. We need to change that, not perpetuate it.

As you know from 2008 to 2010 neighborhood election meeting attendance doubled. From 2010 to 2012, meeting attendance doubled again. There is hope that in 2014, it will double again and 250,000 will attend. I know that The State GOP has a committee that is working to make sure we don't have the same growth problems for 2014 and that the system can handle the volume of those interested and still allow time to meet candidates and ask questions. 

One of the arguments for the proposed changes is that Salt Lake County can't handle over 200,000 attending for the GOP neighborhood elections. Let’s see if we can keep increasing turnout and meet the goals before ruining what we have.

Goal 3. Count My Vote has left alone
Utah's "semi-closed" primaries as their legal analysis said it would help protect CMV from being tossed out in court.
In Utah if you are unaffiliated you can affiliate at the polls. This has been the state law has been for over 10 years. This system has been found to allow participation and still almost eliminate cross over voting where someone votes to pick the weaker candidate in a primary so their candidate will win in the general election.

The law had a sunset every 5 years and had existed for 10 years. After extending the law 5 more years failed in committee the summer of 2012, a bill file to eliminate the sunset or expiration date was pulled. It was signed into law, 2013 H.B. 262 Unaffiliated Voter Amendments. It keeps the current law and removes an automatic expiration date.

In 2010, concerns in even the national media that there would be a crossover vote by the Republican voters to get Rep. Matheson eliminated in a primary election never happened. There were two reasons; first, the GOP had a close primary for US Senate where Mike Lee just barely beat Tim Bridgewater, who had been endorsed by Sen. Bob Bennett. The 2nd reason was the current state law re: unaffiliated voters and a 30 day requirement for other voters to affiliate.

The system we have saves almost a $1 Million over the "direct" primary proposed by Count My Vote, which doesn't change the ability for unaffiliated voters to vote and eliminates our current run off primary. . 

We already have a "bypass" system, filing as an unaffiliated candidate. A candidate can go straight to the general election ballot. Someone who doesn't think they can win if vetted by average citizens asking one on one questions can still run and spend their money. Why should they be a political party nominee if they are going to bypass their political party? 

Goal 4. The 60% threshold to avoid a primary works, allowing a shot of a challenger to eliminate an incumbent and yet requires a challenger to be a strong candidate. Raising it to 65% threshold would have make a few more primaries, but the risk of an incumbent losing, or someone rich or famous losing would also go down. Do the rich, famous or incumbents really need the protection?

The current system does not protect the incumbent, wealthy or famous. That is a good thing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

5 reasons not to sign their petition

1. The "bill" Count My Vote, or proposed law is flawed, terribly so. Even some of the strongest supporters admit the legislature will have to fix it if this mess passes.

We tell public officials to kill these kind of errors in committee, not skip the public hearing, not read the bill and vote to send it to the floor of the legislature to decide if it should pass or not.

That is exactly what Count My Vote is telling people to do. Sign it, unread, and hope everyone realizes next fall it doesn't deliver. They could have amended it but chose not to and by law, can no longer amend the "bill".

2. This proposed law will cost taxpayers millions, $1 Million the first year and almost that every 2 years, with about 1/2 of the unfunded mandate being picked up by the less populous counties, the ones that the same proposed law will cause to be flyover places where the candidates and elected officials won't come anymore.

3. When Utah tried a direct primary in 1937 to 1947, it came with a run off primary, so the majority would elect the nominee. When the voting turn out and the cost drove the public and the media to reject that system - a compromise, caucus/convention and run off primary was created. We have that today. Count My Vote not only removes the nominating for general elections using delegates, it removes the run off primary system we have and nominees will no longer be selected out of a 2 person race.

4. The political royalty sponsors of Count My Vote loved the current system when the turnout to the neighborhood caucus elections meetings (GOP) was about 25,000, but when it exceeded 50,000 and 100,000, they no longer want that system because they no longer have the power. They don't tell you that the same delegates, proposed to be elected by closer to 10,000 attendees will still pick nominees such as the replacement for Spencer Cox.

5. They claim more people will be able to vote. A large percentage of voters will not affiliate to vote in the GOP primary election and those same people will not be able to vote in a "GOP" direct primary under Count My Vote.  They will get to pay more as Count My Vote makes sure the parties will not be picking up the tab they currently do, it will be the taxpayers, unaffiliated or not.

Don't sign, just to vote on it later. Do read it. Do find out more. I trust if you actually understand what you will get, you will not sign the Count My Vote / Buy My vote initiative.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Below is my non legal analysis of the problems with Count My Vote

From Fred C. Cox, former member of the Utah House of Representatives

In 2011 and 2012 I had more than 1300 floor votes on bills as a member of the Utah House of Representatives. That doesn't include votes in committees. (if you combined both years, I missed the fewest floor votes of any legislator of both parties and both houses). I was in the Senate Chambers during those 5 of 1302 votes. There were also special sessions, and I didn't miss any of those floor votes).

I have read through in excess of 1000 bills to decide whether or not to vote for them or not. Whether or not you agree with the policy being submitted as Count My Vote or not, as I ask that you vote against it now.

It is my experience that most bills that reach the floor of the house pass. The bad ones are killed in committee. We have had the public hearings on Count My Vote. They (Count My Vote sponsors) have opted not to amend their "bill" or proposed law after the public meetings where they received very little public support. The proposed law stands or fails as written.

In my opinion it fails. Below is my non legal analysis of the problems with Count My Vote. (I am not an attorney) You elect legislators to vote on bills prior to them becoming law. You elect a governor to also verify and sign the bill before it become law. The legislature can override a veto. The public can veto a bill that has less than a 2/3 vote in both houses by referendum.

You are not being asked to veto a current law. You are being asked to make a new law. It has to stand on its own. You don't know if someone else is going to fix it later.

Count My Vote is asking you to sign their "bill". It is over 20 pages. Before you sign it and long before it is to be voted on, You must read it for your self. I hope the following notes help you decide to not to sign the petition and to kill this "bill" before it is to be voted on.

It is my opinion that Count My Vote is poorly drafted. It is my opinion that it creates bad policy and makes our current system worse. Based on that, there is no reason to vote for it, even if you don't like our current system. It doesn't make it better.

My Notes (very rough form, you were warned):

In a nutshell, CMV was drafted by 2 different people that seemed to ignore each other. One tries to strip the party designation away from any party that doesn't play by the new rules and nominates candidates not using the new system and the other person makes sure No One can be on the ballot unless they follow the new rules. If the Party doesn't sign up, none of the candidates will show up with the party designation, but that isn't true as if you get the signatures you are on the ballot for the party you pick. CMV allows the party to decide to opt out or not, but not really.

The unequal 2% barrier that CMV uses would likely fail in court. A Democratic governor candidate would need 2,812 signatures to be a nominee, a Republican would need 13,162. A Unaffiliated Candidate with 1,000 signatures currently and also under Count My Vote would need 1,000 to go straight to the general election.

The "bill" Count My Vote, or proposed law is flawed, terribly so. Even some of the strongest supporters admit the legislature will have to fix it if this mess passes.

has the "bill", fiscal note, and public meetings video. compare the slides from the Provo meeting and their current website. You will find they are different and that the public hearings used incorrect and confusing information about their proposal and what we currently have at best. For my opinion on the timing of the public hearings, if you missed them, see:

Item #0
They can't amend the "bill" anymore. You must vote on it as it is.
20A-7-204.1 (4)a

Most of the current laws re: the initiatives are at:

quick stuff is here:

They missed the 3 days prior to public hearing required Lt. Gov. filing deadline per
20A-11-802 (1) (v)

They just filed their financials with the Lt. Gov. but didn't make up the previous one. 
They will be fined $100 for not following the law.

Problems with the CMV proposed law include: Line numbers are from the CMV "bill". Other references are from state law. You can look any of them up yourself at:

1. They change the status of the Lt. Gov. handling races crossing county lines. See for example lines 186 and 190, 230, etc.

2. They use 20A-6-301 paper ballots which isn't used any more (Maybe San Juan Co).
We don't use the separate but unequal paper ballots anymore.

See for example lines 112 to 114. Can't forget those candidates we put way over there. :)

Tell me 20A-6-301 violates Fed. Election laws, or the 14th amendment.

3. They let parties opt out but not really. See 100, 101, They repeat is at 129, 130 ,etc. It appears that if we don't play by their rules, (line 305) our party is stripped from the ballot, but they claim if I fill out the petition with signatures I will be on the primary ballot. Line 290 says General Election.

4. They claim an unaffiliated or democratic candidate can't get on our GOP primary ballot. While it is almost clear the petition signers have to be registered party members, or at least will be by the end of March the next year, and will be registered voters, at least by then, It isn't clear that the candidate is. See line 211. The use of preferred affiliation is not defined and is used only in current Utah code to describe Smith' Cards for going shopping.

5. We get to keep the GOP primary election closed, so the unaffiliated will get to watch at home and pay almost $1 Million the first year and $900,000 for the privilege, unless they affiliate. They can do that now.

6. Rookie mistakes with "and" and "or". See line 427, 3rd word "and" and 453, 1st word "or". As we all should know, in a state law, and and or are not the same. You are guilty of X if you are going 65 MPH and driving in Provo vs  You are guilty of X if you are going 65 MPH or driving in Provo. In the last case anyone driving in Provo at any speed would be in violation of the law.

[update, Line 453 is designed to be "or". It creates problems however, as discussed below. Line 427 can be "and" as noted, but with the two "or"s on lines 426 it needs to be on 3 separate lines, so it isn't confusing. This is important as this section could make it so some 17 year old future voter is charged with a Class A misdemeanor for trying to help and not realizing in November that in March their plans had changed. This is the section that is supposed to make sure people signing the nominating petition realize the criminal penalty they face for incorrectly signing the nominating petition. In this case the proposed law takes away from the clerk the ability to make it more clear and tells them the exact wording to use. We should evaluate the policy of setting up a teenager to be a criminal . We want to avoid voter fraud, but perhaps another solution should exist.]

7. There is no run off primary election. While the Deseret News in 1946    
may or may not like what we have today, they didn't want to just toss out the expensive run off elections. Unlimited candidates for the primary, we could have 20 others in the race and one might win with just 6% of the vote and not a majority.

8. According to the person that wrote the fiscal note (additional cost to taxpayers if this new law is enacted), I called, about 1/2 of the $1 million will be picked up by the counties, and most of it the smaller counties. It is like a state unfunded mandate, unless the Utah Legislature decides to fund from the state to the counties.

9. Count My Vote had a conference call with the County Clerks prior to the Fiscal Note being released. I don't know if that is like witness tampering or not. If the fiscal note is low by 25%, the legislature can toss Count My Vote out the window if they choose., even if it is signed by the petition and the majority of the votes vote for it. See 20A-7-214 (2). 

10. Unlike a typical fiscal note for a Utah Law, no funding is provided for this proposed law. This sounds like what they do in Washington D.C.

11. Former Rep. Spencer J. Cox has a replacement being nominated by delegates selected at our neighborhood caucus election meetings. That system will remain, it is not changed by CMV, there will just be almost no one coming to the neighborhood caucus election meetings if CMV were to pass. They are concerned we don't have enough balanced attendees now, what will happen if CMV were to pass?

12. While 2% isn't a tough number of a state house seat, it is a tough number for state wide races. Much more for GOP candidates and the democratic candidates will need fewer signatures.

13. any party endorsements would not show up on a ballot like they claim . 20A–6-301, where they have put back door loophole wording in isn’t used anymore. We use electronic voting machines or vote by mail ballots. See item 2. I am hearing the Utah Legislature might get rid of 20A–6-301 or replace it in 2014 and if so it won't be there in 2015 if CMV passes. What happens then?

I hope this helps,

PS, they "cheated" as not all of the section in whole changed are included in the proposed law.  
The . . . is used. You actually need to read a lot more than 20 pages to see what sections of State law will be changed.

Misc notes:
Lines 209 to 211
I __ declare my candidacy for the office of __ seeking the nomination of the ___ party, which is my preferred political party affiliation.

Currently, a person declares their intention of becoming a candidate for a party. There is no certification when filing required as to what party they belong to, that is up to the political party. In this case, the state would take away the party's ability to control or vet or eliminate any candidate that wants to be their nominee.

Lines 209 to 211 DO NOT state that the ____ party is the party affiliation on their voter registration of the person running, it does have the words "which is my preferred political party affiliation" . I do not believe that is clear.

The person declaring their candidacy for an office, has to get signatures from people that are either now registered to vote or signing they will be registered to vote by 5pm on the final day of March. The people signing have to list their party affiliation of the registered voter. This allows someone that isn't 18 on Nov. 15th of the year before to sign their name and then later register to vote prior to the end of March of the election year.

Is Line 211 clear enough that the person signing to run as a candidate for that party, is a registered member of that party? I don't believe so. It uses the word "preferred" and not "registered". That is splitting hairs for some of the average public, but it isn't for the legislature, or Leg. Research. CMV representatives have specifically used the words Registered in response to questions. CMV uses no such word for the candidate.

The reason I even post this one, is I am tripping over one word, "preferred". Currently, there are those that have run for office as unaffiliated and I am thinking this word v "registered" leaves the door open. I would like to get feedback on this prior anyone saying that someone doesn't have to be a registered republican to run as a republican.

Party affiliation is used in statute. Registered Party is used. I can see getting a registered political party affiliation. Preferred political party affiliation is not used, nor is there anything close to it. Preferred affiliation used in the same section only refers to a "Smith Card", requirements.
You will find that in 59-12-102. Smith's cards.

for the signature sheet of the voter signing the petition it uses the term "Party Affiliation of Registered Voter". That is clear enough to make sure that party members sign the petition, with the exception of one very large loop hole:

I think it interesting that line 453 uses the word "or" and 427 uses the word "and" putting it unclear if the person signing the petition needs to be currently registered to vote or just promises under penalty of a A Class A misdemeanor, that they will be registered by the end of March. How will the candidate know that they do that?

[update, Line 453 is designed to be "or". It creates problems however, as discussed below. Line 427 can be "and" as noted, but with the two "or"s on lines 426 it needs to be on 3 separate lines, so it isn't confusing. This is important as this section could make it so some 17 year old future voter is charged with a Class A misdemeanor for trying to help and not realizing in November than in March their plans had changed. This is the section that is supposed to make sure people signing the nominating petition realize the criminal penalty they face for incorrectly signing the nominating petition. In this case the proposed law takes away from the clerk the ability to make it more clear and tells them the exact wording to use. We should evaluate the policy of setting up a teenager to be a criminal . We want to avoid voter fraud, but perhaps another solution should exist.]

"Independents and Unaffiliated voters have said they want Parties to fund their own closed primaries"
CMV does just the opposite. It prohibits parties from doing that, or selecting their own nominees, and requires that be done by the state at the state expense.

Independents and Unaffiliated voters want to vote for any candidate in a primary funded by them. They want the primaries to be "open". Lines 305 to 308 allow a party to let anyone vote in "their" state run primary, or just a specific party and whether or not unaffiliated voters can vote. That is current state law and doesn't change.

While CMV isn't a true California ballot, you are correct that there is no limit to the number of candidates that could show up on your ballot. CMV has made it a little tougher than CA to get on so their might not be quite as many. I could get 100 to sign in my own precinct and someone could do the same in the other 21 precincts and we could get 20 on the primary Republican ballot.

Mr. Owens (sponsor letter op-ed to the SL Tribune) letter is like telling the Utah Legislature it can meet, but only pass resolutions and that it can’t pass laws anymore.
Yes, the caucus convention system would remain, but it couldn’t nominate anyone for public office, except mid term elections.

His argument is pretty deceptive. He needs to realize that any endorsements would not show up on a ballot like they claim. 20A–6-301, where they have put wording in isn’t used anymore. We use electronic voting machines or vote by mail ballots.

Unaffiliated would still not vote in GOP elections. They would pay more to watch.

Who benefits under Count My Vote / Buy My Vote?
out of the $144,000   they just spent, Exoro’s got $110,000 and Donald Dun’s group got $30,000. ie the political consultants.
Mitt Romney just blasted the caucus system because a majority doesn't decide. If you look at item #7 above, Count My Vote takes that away from Utah voters.
For more information on this subject see:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Perhaps Mitt Romney should be blasting Count My Vote having no run off

Perhaps Mitt Romney should be blasting Count My Vote for having no run off. 

"I’m concerned that that kind of approach (some caucus/convention systems) could end up with a minority deciding who the nominee ought to be. And that I think would be a mistake," he told The Globe.    "I think we should have the majority of the party’s voters decide who they want as their nominee."

Utah's Count My Vote / Buy My Vote (CMV) doesn't get a majority of the parties voters to decide who they want. We do that now. CMV has no run off and almost eliminates the possibility of the party picking between 2 candidates, so virtually no majority candidate.

Count My Vote is proposing a primary with no run off and unlimited candidates. If the poorly drafted proposed law passes, the nominee will be selected by a minority almost every time. Currently a nominee is selected by 60% of the delegates or the majority at a primary between 2 candidates.

There have been 10 times the numbers coming to the neighborhood caucus elections than would be required to get signatures or votes to be the nominee under Count My vote. For a legislative district, there could be as few as 100 signatures vs 1000 caucus attendees and depending on the number of candidates, fewer votes for the nominee than caucus attendees.

in 2008, Jason Chaffetz beat 12 year incumbent Chris Cannon 60/40 in the prmary with Rep. Cannon endorsed by Pres. Bush and the 1st lady, Mitt Romney, Sen. Hatch and Bennett. When Jason Chaffetz won the nominee, the endorsers backed Jason.

I am thinking about why Utah changed from the neighborhood caucus election system in 1937 (just so one democratic state senate president could get elected governor for 8 years) and Count My Vote / Buy My Vote is proposing to change the system again (just so one former republican governor can get elected to the US Senate)

I really hope the public is smarter than that. In the 1937 case, it was the taxpayers that got stuck with the bill, and the current poorly drafted proposed law would do the same thing again. This time it will cost taxpayers, about 1/2 of it born by smaller counties, almost $1,000,000 and then about $900,000 every two years if Count My Vote / Buy My Vote were to pass.

Someone has to have a pretty big ego to want to buy a state's entire election system (or get Mitt to jump in as well) just to get elected to a specific office. I know, Sen. Hatch spent a ton of money but still faced a primary. At least he worked to win with the current system. 

At only one time for 10 years in Utah’s history did the state depart from the Neighborhood Election, Caucus and Convention System. In 1937, a powerful democratic state senator convinced enough of the legislature to switch to an open primary. He had had two losses, a US Senate race and also for governor, because the majority of the convention delegates disagreed with his legislative voting record. But he was well known and had money.

Many at the time felt like an open primary was his ticket to the governorship, and he did win. But the change in the system only lasted for a decade. After public and media disillusionment, and even worse voter turnout, Utah restored the Caucus and Convention System. Why go back? in 1946, after almost 10 years of a direct primary with run off, the media and public demanded the return of the Caucus and Convention System to replace the need for a run off election.

Even the Deseret News in 1946 was specific that they didn't want to just eliminate the run off, as that would turn the power over to money. They wanted that every day people would vote at local meetings. That is what we have.

Mitt seems to be worried about Tea Party Wins.

Whether you like Sen. Mike Lee or not you should consider the following. The delegates almost eliminated him at convention.

re: Sen. Bennett in 2010. He was not in the top 2 coming out of convention. In fact the more moderate  of the two, Tim Bridgewater was selected by 57% of the delegates in the last round of voting by the delegates. If he had received 60% Tim Bridgewater would have been the party nominee and Mike Lee would have been eliminated.

Sen. Bennett endorsed Tim Bridgewater during the primary, but with voters ticked at TARP and ObamaCare, they went with Mike Lee.

Sen. Mike Lee was the party nominee after the primary

The Neighborhood Election and Convention system in Utah is the best way to make sure a grassroots process can win over large amounts of money. It is the only way someone with $100,000 can go against someone with $2 million in election funds.

We have a system that that does NOT favor the incumbent, the wealthy or the famous. This is a good thing, and should be protected.