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Utah Senate Leaders Oppose Changes to Caucus System

Richard Jackson via Flickr, Creative Commons
The Utah State Capitol

Leaders in the Utah Senate indicated today that they are resistant to further changes to the state’s caucus convention system.

Senate Bill 54, passed last year, was seen as a compromise between members of the Count My Vote initiative and the Utah legislature. The legislation made it easier for candidates to reach primary elections. Instead of winning enough delegates at a party convention, candidates could get on to a primary ballot by collecting signatures from supporters. It also created “qualified political parties.”

To become a qualified party, a registered party—like the Republicans—must allow non-affiliated voters to vote for candidates in primaries.

Republican Senator Scott Jenkins is sponsoring a bill that would change the definition of a qualified political party. His legislation would remove the requirement that registered parties let outside voters into their primaries.

But Senate Majority leader Ralph Okerlund says he is mostly satisfied with last year’s compromise.

“If there are some good ideas that we need to take a look at, that would adjust that or change it in some way, I’m open those ideas. But my first thought is last year we did something to work with the community,” says Okerlund.

Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says he’s reluctant to any changes to the compromise legislation. Senator Jenkins did not respond to requests for comment.  

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