SALT LAKE CITY – Senate Bill 54, the so-called “Count My Vote” compromise bill, was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert Monday afternoon. The law is said to preserve the state’s long-held caucus-convention system while also opening the way for direct primaries.
With the governor’s signature making SB 54 law, the Count My Vote petition comes to an end. Previously, the group stated they had gained 100,000 of the 102,000 signatures needed to get the Count My Vote initiative on the ballot. Originally, the movement wanted to do away with the caucus-convention system and replace it with a direct primary. However, Count My Vote officials and the state legislators met and announced a compromise in the form of the second version of SB 54.
Under the new law, anyone who wants to run for public office can bypass the caucus system entirely by gaining a required number of signatures related to the specific office the candidate seeks. Once the signatures are had, they are eligible to participate in a direct primary.
However, if the candidate wants to go through the caucus system instead, they still have that option. Some candidates may go both routes if they so choose.
The caucus-convention system currently used by the political parties will remain intact, though with some notable differences. The biggest difference is that party-specific primaries will now be open to unaffiliated voters. For many years the Utah Republican Party has held closed primaries. Another change to the caucus system will allow for absentee ballots for delegates at the party’s state convention.
While Count My Vote supporters have praised the compromise as a move they believe will appeal to the state’s unaffiliated voters and ultimately help revitalize voter participation, opponents are wary of it. They argue direct primaries will make candidates beholden to their campaign donors rather than the people that elect them.
Ed Note: There was an error reported concerning how the Utah Republican primary conducted closed primaries. This has been corrected.
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- Dixie Republican Forum discusses opposing Count My Vote ballot initiative
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- Count My Vote hits St. George with supporters, opponents
- Former Utah governors to kick off ‘Count My Vote’ in St. George
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