Curt Bramble’s caucus preservation bill

Curt BrambleThis morning in the Senate Business and Labor committee, Senator Curt Bramble presented SB54, officially titled “Elections Amendments“.

This bill, which I support, has been in the news lately as a legislative fix to concerns with the caucus/convention system and as an alternative to Count My Vote, a proposal that many say is sloppy and flawed.

Senator Bramble said that according to CMV promoters, their goal is to increase voter participation.  Bramble took them at their word and drafted a bill that is designed to increase voter participation in several ways.

First, political parties shall provide a 2-day window so that as many people as possible can vote for delegate candidates.  Next, the bill allows for either remote voting or alternate delegates to vote at convention.  Third, the bill would increase the threshold to avoid a primary from 60% at convention to 65%, and finally, it would allow unaffiliated voters to cast a vote in the Republican primary.  (They already are allowed to vote in the Democratic primaries, which are open.)

All election law is currently set out in statute – it is not remarkable to deal with election law by the legislators.  The people control the ballot, not the party.  Anyone can run as an unaffiliated candidate.  This bill clarifies that parties have the right to select their nominees.

Most public commenters spoke in favor of the bill.  They included James Humphreys, former Senator Dan Liljenquist, Laura Warburton, Kelly Atkinson, and several others.  LauraLyn Eberting spoke about a concern with 2-day voting, but added that overall, she is supportive of the bill. Lane Beck said he does not believe there is any legal standing for the state legislature to set election law for political parties and Dave Duncan from Utah county said he believes there are fatal flaws in this bill. Duncan pointed to the GOP state central committee consistently voting to not make changes to the party nomination system, said he cannot support the bill in its current form, even with CMV being the alternative.

The acting chair of the committee, Senator Deidre Henderson, spoke passionately about the caucus system.  She adamantly denies the notion that the Count My Vote movement favors women. “It does not,” she said. She is disappointed that CMV wants to strip women like her of the ability to be involved and is in full support of this bill.

The bill passed out of committee unanimously.



Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Whether or not you agree with SB 54, the bill is fatally flawed.

    2014 SB 54 Elections Amendments, A proposal for the Utah Legislature to adopt Count My Vote, prior to knowing if they get enough signatures, and prior to a vote in November if they do. It provides exceptions, one of which would ruin the Same Day Ballot that the GOP is adding to increase participation for Neighborhood Caucus Election night.

    Many citizens who attend their neighborhood elections and caucus meeting become interested in politics and get involved in their communities, the state and the nation. They meet and help candidates become elected. Some then later become candidates. This should be encouraged through education. SB 54, lines 796 to 800 ruins that and should be amended.

    Again, we need to amend it to allow greater participation by those that are new to the process. Delete lines 796 to 800. This will allow someone new to run the night of the meeting. We have and should have incentives to file and run for delegate or precinct chair prior to the meeting, but as drafted, the bill reduces participation.

  2. Since you are again running for office Holly, I would strongly encourage you to read and study the proposed Count My Vote Initiative and the arguments in favor of changing the status quo at this website before making a decision on SB54

    Utah’s Constitution provides two methods by which laws can be enacted, by the legislature and by the citizenry of the state. Our legislature has demonstrated a pattern of undermining and circumventing the public’s efforts to exercise this right on important issues such as this one. It’s as if the majority (authority) in the Legislature believe that they know what is best for the citizens in the state. Curt Bramble’s SB54 is just another cynical attempt to put window dressing on the status quo that a majority of Utah citizens believe needs changing and deny the citizens right to be heard at the polls.

  3. JBT, I find it amusing that you assume I have not read the Count My Vote proposal. Of course I have. It’s likely a moot point, anyway, as the CMV folks do not have the signatures they need and are not on track to have them by the April cut-off date.
    Also, since you seem to not be aware, I have been outspoken in my critique of the recalcitrance on the part of some in the GOP to make needed changes to the caucus system. I think Bramble’s bill does that, by letting unaffiliated voters the opportunity to vote in the primary and by making caucus night as accessible as possible.

  4. Laura Warburton says:

    I’d rather have closed primaries but we’ve brought this on ourselves by some crazy, controlling, unbending SCC members. Many members are amazing and I consider them friends. Many others I blame for this mess. We needed an amended process and we’re getting one.

    Compromise, the word, the idea that has become a bad concept. The realization of good is evil and evil good. The state pays for the primary. Therefore it’s the people’s. Until last year, the majority of registered voters in Utah were unaffiliated or independent. A portion switched to republican to participate in the caucus which tipped the scales. Will they remain Republican? At the end of the day, most of those independent voters voted Republican anyway. I don’t think open primaries will hurt use.

    Listen, I know who’s buying dinner here. If I have to eat steak instead of lobster, so be it. At least I keep the caucus!

  5. The caucus system needs to be eliminated, not just changed. The Count My Vote website makes a compelling argument for doing just that including:

    1. Utah is one of only a few states that still use a convention.

    2. Of the states that still use a convention, Utah has the highest barrier for candidates – 40% of party delegates’ votes (Colorado – 30%, Connecticut – 15%, New Mexico 20%, North Dakota – endorsement only).

    3. Utah is the only state in which a political party is allowed to preclude a primary election for statewide or Congressional offices.

    4. Utah’s elected leaders are more concerned with making policies supported by party delegates than policies supported by Utah voters.

    5. Party delegates and activists have different priorities than voters and do not represent the views of average Utahns.

    6. Utah’s system gives the most power and influence to those with the most extreme views.

    Making caucus night more accessible will have little or no effect since the majority of Utah’s citizens who are not zealots or have an axe to grind are not going to attend in the same proportion as those who meet that description.

    To tell it like it is, the extreme right wing Republicans from Utah County and other conservative areas of the state who have a grip on power in the Utah Legislature do not want to relinquish that control to politicians with more mainstream views who would be chosen by primary elections to run for office. It is as simple as that.

    • If you are going to spend $3/4 of a Million at least bother to get a well drafted bill.

      In a nutshell, CMV was drafted by 2 different people that seemed to ignore each other. One tries to strip the party designation away from any party that doesn’t play by the new rules and nominates candidates not using the new system and the other person makes sure No One can be on the ballot unless they follow the new rules. If the Party doesn’t sign up, none of the candidates will show up with the party designation, but that isn’t true as if you get the signatures you are on the ballot for the party you pick. CMV allows the party to decide to opt out or not, but not really.

      The unequal 2% barrier to nomination (line 333) that CMV uses would likely fail in court. A Democratic governor candidate would need 2,812 signatures to be a nominee, a Republican would need 13,162. A Unaffiliated Candidate with 1,000 signatures currently and also under Count My Vote would need 1,000 to go straight to the general election.

      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.

      • Count My Vote will cost taxpayers millions, almost $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.

        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 primary system we have and nominees will no longer be selected out of a 2 person race.

        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.

  6. A “fatally flawed” system is one in which just .3% of the states eligible voters who make up the delegates choose the candidates for office, which in this “one party state” generally means which Republican is elected to office in an easy contest.

    A “fatally flawed” system is one in which $6.5 million was spent by the Republican party to influence the vote of 2,483 delegates, amounting to $2,618 per delegate vote.

    A “fatally flawed” system is one in which delegates who do not share the same priorities as the majority of voters in the state elect politicians who do not share the same priorities as the voters they are supposed to represent.

    Calling the sponsors of the Count My Vote Initiative “political royalty” and making unsubstantiated claims is a typical sophomoric response of those on the extreme right who are kicking and screaming at the thought of losing some of their ill gotten power gained by manipulating the caucus system. The louder they protest, the stronger the case for the necessity of political change in this state.

  7. There is a need to correct some of the misinformation written by Holly Richardson in this blog. First of all the Count My Vote sponsors have 100,000 signatures which is close to the 102,000 signatures required. Holly wrote “the CMV folks do not have the signatures they need and are not on track to have them by the April cut-off date”. I can’t tell whether she is uninformed, misinformed, or is deliberately mischaracterizing the facts to make her argument.

    The other misinformation is that Count My Vote is a “proposal that MANY say is sloppy and flawed.” [emphasis added]. The evidence that “many” say the proposal is sloppy and flawed appears to be the link to a Deseret News op-ed by one Gerald Larsen who is a software engineer. This is not only misleading, but sloppy journalism as well. Come on Holly, you can do better than this.

  8. JBT, have you even READ the CMV language? It IS sloppy and flawed. It is full of typos and is poorly drafted. It’s like it was thrown together with little forethought and no editing.
    Also, the latest information I had last week was that they are close to the raw numbers BUT nowhere near what they need based on county distribution.

  9. The CMV language and punctuation can be easily cleaned up without nullifying the entire document. There is nothing wrong with the concept and intent of the initiative. Finding a few flaws and then condemning the entire work is a common false logic argument used by the conservatives when they feel threatened. The scheme cooked up by Bramble and his ilk to nullify the Count My Vote initiative whether it is approved by the public or not is incredibly underhanded and patently dishonest. It is nothing by a ploy to undermine the public’s constitutionally established right to participate in making and passing laws. It is not unlike the time that the Legislature passed term limits to stave off a public referendum or initiative that would have created them and then just before the legislation was to go into effect, your friend Bramble and the legislature quietly nullified the law.

    You should be ashamed of supporting these types of underhanded schemes to take away the public’s right to be heard. You have picked the wrong side to be on this time. It shows you are no different than the rest that you love to pretend that you are a “cut above”.

    • So, JBT, haven’t heard one word from you about the compromise CMV struck. They voluntarily stopped the initiative process, apparently undermining the public’s right to “participate in making and passing laws”. Hmm. I wonder why the silence on your part.


  1. […] This article has been updated from the original posted on Holly on the Hill. […]

  2. […] Curt Bramble’s caucus preservation bill ( […]