WASHINGTON COUNTY – According to a Pew Research Study back in August, only 11 percent of Americans are satisfied with the way the government is being run. Partially because of the media and partially because of human nature, most people look to the election of the President of the United States as the answer. Since he has more power than any other single person in government, it is often thought the best way to bring about the desired change is to elect a new president.
As it turns out, the election of a new President can make a significant change. The problem is, we’ve never had a presidential race close enough to be swayed in one direction or another by a single vote. Many people try to increase their voice by talking to others with the hopes of influencing multiple votes. This is an important part of how the country is run, but even if someone is able to convince 100 people to vote for a certain candidate it amounts to a very small change in the final outcome.
With 131 million people voting in the 2008 elections, changing 100 votes changes the outcome by less than one ten-thousandth of one percent. This does not mean that people should stop being involved in the presidential election, but it does mean that people should also spend time focusing on areas where they can have a bigger voice.
There are ways that the average citizens can have their voice heard. One of these ways is getting involved with the local caucus held by your political party.
In Utah, the Republican Party uses the Caucus system to determine which candidate gets the nomination from their party for a political office. Before the general election occurs, the Utah Republican party needs to determine whom it will nominate and support in each race. This is done through the caucus system.
The Caucus system breaks the state down into precincts. Every citizen is a member of a precinct. Each precinct elects both county and state representatives or delegates to represent them in determining who will get their party’s nomination. These delegates have the responsibility of researching all the candidates and voting at the County Convention, State Convention, or both, depending on if they were voted in as a County delegate, State delegate, or both. At the conventions, if any candidate gets 60 percent or more of the votes from the delegates they will become the party’s nominee. If nobody gets 60 percent then there will be a primary between the two candidates with the most votes. Everyone that participates in the Caucus gets a voice and a vote to help determine who will represent the precinct as a delegate.
Every registered member of the Republican party, including those that register at the door, can participate in the caucus as long as they didn’t also participate in the Democrat caucus which will be held two days prior. If the original analysis is recreated to look at caucus participation it becomes obvious that it is much easier for a single person to make a difference. If a person wants to show up and participate in the caucus and vote on the delegates, his vote could easily make a difference.
In the 2010 election cycle there were 3,295 participants in the entire county. With those participants divided into 104 precincts, it averages out to about 32 participants per precinct. With those numbers, every single person controls over 3 percent of the outcome with their vote alone.
The Washington County Republican leaders have set a goal of 100 participants per precinct and have been doing a number of things to try and reach that goal, but even if they reach their goal and improve participation that much, each voter will still fully control one percent of the vote – which is much better than the one ten-thousandth of one percent that their vote controlled during the 2008 presidential election.
On top of that, the larger precincts will elect as many as three state delegates and six county delegates, giving participants in those larger precincts 9 votes. Also, every participant is eligible to run as a delegate and obviously wouldn’t have to convince even close to 100 people to vote for them since average attendance is expected to be somewhere between 32 and 100; thus a simple majority would make them a delegate. In the Republican Party there are 4,000 delegates statewide and Washington County will receive 233 of those 4,000 delegates. In County races there are only 485 delegates so a single delegate has an even bigger voice.
This year the Republicans will hold their caucus meetings on Thursday March 15. The meetings will start at 7 p.m., but anyone who wishes to participate is urged to arrive a little early.
Recent redistricting has changed boundaries and some new precincts have been added. More than half of the precinct maps reflect changes in name, boundary or a new precinct. Your precinct and poll location may be different than years past. To find your precinct and poll location, go to the Washington County Clerk’s website.
Copyright 2012 St. George News.