St George News

Greg Aldred and Mary Burkett at the Dixie Republican Forum Luncheon, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2014 | Photo by Scott Heinecke, St. George News

Dixie Republican Forum discusses opposing Count My Vote ballot initiative

ST. GEORGE — Members of the Dixie Republican Forum focused their efforts to oppose the Count My Vote Ballot Initiative Tuesday, during their monthly luncheon held at the Stephen and Marcia Wade Alumni House, 684 East 500 South, in St. George.

Count My Vote opposition

Utah Republican Party Vice Chairman Willie Billings spoke about the Count My Vote ballot initiative, focusing on what it is and how he feels it would impact the election process in the state if it passes.

The Count My Vote initiative was started by a group within the Utah Republican party who favor eliminating the caucus system in the state and going to a primary election instead. They are financed by some big money both inside and outside of the state, Billings said. Some of the largest contributors to the initiative are Larry Miller’s wife and the former Utah governor, Michael Leavitt, he said.

Billings said Leavitt is a Washington, D.C. politician, with tons of money who got elected with this system and he believes he may be supporting the initiative because he has future political aspirations in the state.

Utah has a unique caucus system that involves neighborhood meetings on a grassroots level. Other states that do not have a caucus system, such as California, have all had political and economic problems, Billings said, and he fears the same problems could impact Utah if changes are made.

Speaking about the Count My Vote agenda, Billings said: “I just think that it’s unfair that big money can decide to change the rules and flat out lie and convince them with some tricky advertising campaign to vote for something when they don’t know what they are voting for; I just want to do everything I can to stop it.”

In 2006 there were about 20,000 people in Utah who attended caucuses, a turnout Billings said was pathetic. However, last year there were about 123,000 attendees. The Count My Vote people are saying that there will be a greater voter turnout by eliminating the caucus system, he said, but that is 123,000 people, plus all of the people that they have an influence over, that will no longer be involved.

Bob Bennett got beat because he had the “primary” mentality, Billings said, and Bennett thought he could win the election just based on advertising.

Sen. Orrin Hatch came to Hurricane three times when he was running for re-election. Billings said: “He spent all that money and still almost got beat;  If Count My Vote passes, you won’t see Hatch in Hurricane again, he will just advertise.”

Billings encouraged the attendees to be active in getting the word out to their neighbors, friends and especially teachers.

“You know how they plan to win this thing,” Billings said, “teachers. They have gone to the teachers union and gotten them to support it.”

Billings does not believe that the Count My Vote organization has as many signatures right now as they allude to. They will need to get about 120,000 signatures in order to get the initiative on the ballot and he believes this effort to defeat the initiative will be won by Southern Utah, from Sevier County south.

“County My Vote is a misnomer and I feel it’s really important for people to understand that,” Mary Burkett, a Republican party precinct chairperson said. She believes that we now have a system where everyone can get involved, she said, and the average person can get on the phone with a senate candidate. “If it goes to a primary system, that will never happen again,” she said.

Other Business

Greg Aldred, a forum member, spoke about attending the National Federation of Republican Assemblies Convention in Dallas in October and hearing a speech by K. Carl Smith, who has written a book called Frederick Douglass Republicans: The Movement to Re-Unite America’s Passion for Liberty.

“This has sparked the FDR (Frederick Douglass Republican) movement within the Republican party, everyone was wearing FDR shirts (at the convention),” Aldred said. “We have been labeled wrongly as Republicans,” he said. “Frederick Douglass was a runaway slave who believed in capitalism and he is a reminder that it was our party that created the civil rights movement and we have forgotten about that,” Aldred said.

Resources

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery

Related Posts

Email: sheinecke@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.
Greg Aldred and Mary Burkett at the Dixie Republican Forum Luncheon, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2014 | Photo by Scott Heinecke, St. George News

Greg Aldred and Mary Burkett at the Dixie Republican Forum Luncheon, St. George, Utah, Jan. 21, 2014 | Photo by Scott Heinecke, St. George News

 

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter you email below to start!

  12 Comments
  1. David Whipple January 21, 2014 at 11:25 pm · Reply

    This “count my vote” initiative really needs to be considered carefully. I attended the caucus meeting in 2012, and felt I was attending a “Good Old Boys Club” meeting. Sure, you could say a few words, but the system was already in place, and I could tell immediately who the “players” were that would be elected to vote for me. I sure didn’t feel represented.

    I’m not sure I like the idea of huge advertising funds determining our candidates either. But at least a small elite group would not have total control of who we select as our candidates.

    I wish there was a system where an unemployed construction worker, or a returning financially destitute veteran could get their message out, and have a reasonable chance at running, and winning, a senate seat, or even a shot as president. That’s the system I would endorse hands-down.

    I hope more people post their experiences and opinions.

  2. bub January 21, 2014 at 11:48 pm · Reply

    LOL, when did republicans stop believing in big money politics? Isn’t that their foundation?

  3. bub January 22, 2014 at 12:04 am · Reply

    I think I’ll sign the petition. I want to be able to vote for a candidate of my choosing and not have some goofy delegation take away my choice. If you want your vote to count petition for primary system. These people have been taking away our right to vote for way too long.

  4. utah_1 January 22, 2014 at 12:59 am · Reply

    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 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 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.

    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.

  5. utah_1 January 22, 2014 at 1:01 am · Reply

    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”.

    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.

  6. Bender January 22, 2014 at 9:49 am · Reply

    Yeah right Greg, you republicans have always been the torch bearers for civil rights.
    .
    Count my vote should scare the small gangs of prudish church ladies that run most local caucuses. It takes away their power to inflict their narrow minded candidates on the rest of us.

  7. John Olsen January 22, 2014 at 11:08 am · Reply

    Dave, the closest thing you can get to that ideal where a construction worker can get elected is the caucus system. Sure, we may need to tweak it a little, but it works. Jason Chaffetz and Mike Lee could not have even become the nominee if we had had a direct primary system. They didn’t have the deep pockets and support of outside organization to fund the 10s of thousands of dollars required to advertise. Instead, all they had to do was convince 60% of 500 well informed, engaged delegates that they were the right ones for the party nomination. A direct primary system favors the incumbent and the well connected, elite political class. That’s why it is supported by the Washington insider, former governor Mike leavitt, the wife of the late Larry Miller, and Dave Clark, a banking executive. Follow the money! This petition is about the powerful maintaining power! It is not about the little guy! Senator Hatch was terrified when Bob Bennett lost the nomination and hates the idea that he has to travel to the far corners of the state to talk to delegates. He would much rather spend large amounts of donors money buying advertising.

    • Dave Whipple January 22, 2014 at 3:12 pm · Reply

      John, I agree in principal with your statement. It’s the application at meetings, when you walk in and the power-group is already formed. Ron and Rand Paul found a way to “beat” the caucus system in a lot of states, with students, so it isn’t foolproof either. Iowa is trying to address that issue this week. Advertising dollars and outside influence are also a potential threat to an equitable system. We haven’t even addressed re-districting in this discussion. Change needs to happen, I just have no idea what will work… unless people stopped being so power-hungry, and were a lot more open, honest and truthful.

  8. Craig January 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm · Reply

    “Other states that do not have a caucus system, such as California, have all had political and economic problems, Billings said, …” As if Utah doesn’t have these problems???

    “…Billings said: “I just think that it’s unfair that big money can decide to change the rules and flat out lie and convince them with some tricky advertising campaign to vote for something when they don’t know what they are voting for; …” Yeah, like Swallow and Shurtleff!

    If the good ol boys and their cronies did not think the caucus system was in jeopardy, they would not be working so hard to discredit Count My Vote. They claim only big money will win elections. That is untrue. in this day and age of FREE social media and instant news, anyone can get their message across.

  9. Craig January 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm · Reply

    “…all they had to do was convince 60% of 500 well informed, engaged delegates that they were the right ones for the party nomination.”
    So, all they had to do was convince 300 people that they were the right choice? It doesn’t mean those 300 people were “well informed.” It just means 300 people decided for everyone else that they were the “right ones for the nomination.” This is another reason why we need to toss the caucus system and have open primaries. What are the good ol boys afraid of?

  10. Combat Vet and Democrat January 22, 2014 at 8:17 pm · Reply

    The “Good Old Boys” sure seem to against “Count My Vote” I’m not sure why having Mike Lee in office is a good thing and a reason to not sign the petition?

  11. Roger January 22, 2014 at 11:22 pm · Reply

    To claim Republicans are the only ones who have big money and big corporations backing them shows your ignorance. Both parties need big money to play the game. I don’t think any poor people were at Mrs. O’s birthday party last weekend. Pres. O always cries for income equality, while spending our money, hand over fist……..

 Add Your Comment
HTML Tags Allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>