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State GOP Makes Changes to Neighborhood Caucuses

Brian Grimmett
FILE: Utah GOP Chairman James Evans

Leaders of the Count My Vote initiative say they will continue to move forward with their efforts to replace the party caucuses with direct primaries even after state GOP delegates voted over the weekend to reform the current system.

Members of the Utah Republican party will now be able to participate in their neighborhood caucus meetings even if they can’t make it to the actual meeting usually held in the evening. The GOP central committee made this change to the caucus system, and several others aimed at making it easier for more people to participate, at a meeting in Fillmore on Saturday. Executive Co-Chair of Count My Vote Rich McKeown applauds the changes and says he’s glad to see that discussions about the system are finally starting to happen.

“I think that this has been a very important part of what we’ve done, is to create dialogue around this issue of voter participation,” McKeown says.

But the changes aren’t enough to stop their campaign.

“We will continue to pursue our initiative to attempt to create for Utah a direct primary because we believe that the system should be open to all voters and that decisions should not be made by a discrete small number of delegates,” McKeown says.

Casey Anderson is one of four co-chairs of the group Protect Our Neighborhood Elections that is in direct opposition to Count My Vote. After the recent changes, he says he doesn’t understand why Count My Vote still wants to abolish the caucus system.

“And I think that they addressed nearly every issue that’s been brought up by Count My Vote," Anderson says.  "So, I don’t think there’s really any reason to abolish the caucus-convention system that so many people like, when every issue that has been brought up was essentially addressed at the meeting on Saturday.”

Count My Vote organizers have already started to gather enough signatures to get their initiative on the November ballot. They’ll need to collect signatures from 10 percent of voters in 26 of the 29 Senate districts in the state by April 15 to do so.

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