Last night, Count My Vote, SB54, and the Buckshot Caucus won – and the Republican process lost.
A “former” Democrat didn’t care about your elected neighborhood representative – your Delegate – and instead of going through the Convention process, paid his way onto the Primary Ballot. Well, “he” didn’t pay, out-of-state special interest groups paid to get him on the ballot.
Count My Vote and SB54
During the Count My Vote petition and SB54 time frame, many people came forward reporting that Democrats in Utah had been telling their members to register as “Unaffiliated” rather than as “Democrat” – and that by so doing they could vote in Republican Primaries. Thankfully, that part of SB54 (allowing non-Republicans to vote in Republican Primaries) was stricken down as illegal by the courts. The “Unaffiliated” strategy could have been to:
- Get the most liberal Republican elected, and/or
- Get a Democrat to run as a Republican so the Democrats could have a chance in the traditionally Red Utah.
Utah’s Caucus & Convention System
There was a problem with the latter point of the “Unaffiliated” strategy: Utah has had a Caucus and Convention System that made this type of coup very difficult to pull off. In this system, we elected representatives for our neighborhoods (Delegates) who would then research those wishing to win the Republican Endorsement – this effectively weeded out those who were “masquerading” as Republicans in an attempt to get elected.
If there was a clear sentiment of who the best representative of Republican values was, that person was promoted to the General Ballot. If the sentiment was split, all but the two highest vote getter were eliminated, and those would be promoted to a Republican Primary Ballot.
The Republican Primary Ballot was an opportunity for the Republicans in those neighborhoods to select which of the two remaining candidates would make it on to the General Ballot.
SB54 Mutes Your Voice
Thanks to SB54, your elected neighborhood representative can no longer do his or her job. Today, candidates can (and have) bought their way onto the ballot – this is called the “Signature Path”.
The Signature Path lets candidates go around gathering signatures (often times fraudulently). The candidates themselves don’t do all the work – instead they pay people to do it, and often they pay per each signature gathered. They literally buy their way onto the ballot instead of getting the approval of your elected neighborhood representative.
If the “pay to get on the ballot” “Signature Path” wasn’t bad enough, since candidates can (and have) bypassed the Convention completely, after they’ve been elected, they no longer have any reason to listen to your elected neighborhood representative. SB54 and “Signature Path” candidates have successfully muted your voice.
Because of SB54, your opinions are only are heard at the ballot box every several years instead of throughout their elected term of office through your elected neighborhood representative.
To add insult to injury, most of Utah uses “Vote By Mail” rather than “Vote In Person”. On the surface, that sounds like a good idea, but it eliminates the personal verification of poll-workers and limits it to people looking at signatures.
In Utah’s CD3 special election this year, Republican ballots were sent out to “Unaffiliated” voters. Yes, County Clerks “messed up” and sent out ballots inline with the (illegal) wording of SB54. They said it was a “mistake”. However, if “Unaffiliated” voters want to cast their Republican Primary ballots, they could register as Republicans and have their votes counted.
That was the argument of Count My Vote: your vote wasn’t being counted. Except that was a lie.
Republicans should pick their own candidate to appear on the Primary Ballot. Democrats should pick their own candidate to appear on the Primary Ballot. Libertarians, Constitution Party, or any other party should pick their own candidate to appear on the Primary Ballot. THAT is where your vote gets counted.
Count My Vote wanted non-Republicans to be able to “help select” the Republican candidate. Why should Democrats, Libertarians, or members of any other party get to select the candidate of another party?! It’s absurd. But that’s what they wanted – because their candidates weren’t getting elected. Read that again. Their candidates weren’t getting enough votes to get elected, so their solution was to rig the way candidates are put on the ballot in an attempt to get them elected.
In this election, “Unaffiliated” voters (those who are by their own choice NOT members of the Republican Party) very likely selected the candidate who will appear on the General Ballot as a Republican.
A New Kind of Voice: Pay to Play
Thankfully, most candidates aren’t self-funded, they rely on campaign contributions – the majority of which come from PICs and PACs and Special Interest Groups. So, if you want your opinions to be heard now, instead of walking down the street to chat with your elected neighborhood representative, you have to find a PIC, PAC, or Special Interest Group which represents your views, donate a large sum of money to them, and get that Committee or Group to relay your message to your elected official. You have to “pay to play”.
That doesn’t sound like a Republic any more.
Congratulations, Count My Vote, you’ve won this round. Unfortunately, it’s our Republic which lost.