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Democrats Defend Count My Vote Compromise Amid GOP Lawsuit

State Senator Jim Dabakis, Representative Mark Wheatley and Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon respond to the Republican Party's lawsuit against the state over Senate Bill 54.

Utah Democrats stand behind a 2014 law that amends the state’s caucus and convention system. Meanwhile, the Republican Party has filed a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

Senate Bill 54 was a last minute compromise between Democrats, Republicans and representatives of the County My Vote initiative. It preserves Utah’s caucus and convention system and provides an alternative path for candidates to get their names on the primary election ballot.

Speaking on KUER’s RadioWest Tuesday, State Republican Party Chair James Evans argued the Utah GOP is a private organization and has the right to control its procedures for nominating candidates. 

“What the state did is they’ve reached in under SB 54 and told private organizations, we’re going to rewrite your internal documents and tell you how you move forward as you select those that represent your organization,” Evans said.

Democratic State Representative Rebecca Chavez Houck stood with State Democratic Party officials on Tuesday to defend the law. She pointed out more than 60 percent of Utah voters are unaffiliated and don’t have the ability to exercise their right to free association under the caucus and convention system

“And I think this compromise provided one more venue for those association rights to be preserved for unaffiliated voters and they are the predominate number of voters in this state,” Houck said.

The original Count My Vote initiative sought to abolish Utah’s caucus convention system and replace it with a direct primary election. According to statistics from the Lieutenant Governor’s office, voter turnout was only 46% in the last election.  

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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