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Sutherland Institute, Count My Vote Debate Merits of Direct Primary Elections

Brian Grimmett
Utah GOP Chairman James Evans, LaVarr Webb, Kirk Jowers, and Paul Mero participate in a panel on the County My Vote initiative.

Leaders of the Count My Vote initiative joined members of the opposition to discuss their ballot measure Wednesday during a panel at the Sutherland Institute Legislative Policy Conference.

Utah GOP Chairman James Evans and Sutherland Institute Director Paul Mero, who oppose the Count My Vote initiative, joined LaVarr Webb and University of Utah professor Kirk Jowers, who support it, to discuss the initiative. In making an argument for moving to an open primary voting system, Jowers says the current caucus/convention system is outdated and ultimately limits voter participation.

“No matter how big we build our caucus meetings only 4,000 get to vote, and it’s the antithesis of a democratic republic,” Jowers says.

But Paul Mero says having informed voters and delegates involved in the process is more important than the number of people who turn out to vote.

“It doesn’t bug me that x percent participate," Mero says. "Whether x percent participate in a primary, or x percent participate in a general, it doesn’t bother me. What bothers me are ignorant people. That’s what bothers me. Ignorant people making decisions on my behalf.”

State GOP Chairman James Evans also noted that his party has already made several changes to the caucus/convention system in an effort to address some of the concerns brought up by initiative.  But LaVarr Webb called those changes modest. He says Count My Vote organizers will continue collecting signatures with the hope of getting the initiative on the ballot in November. 

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