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.