If you want a better electoral system, ignore Count My Vote

By Jesse Harris

I’ve long maintained that the Count My Vote proposal (and SB54 co-opting) are complete dumpster fires for the state’s electoral system. The entire fight is nothing more than using state law to try and determine who gets to be Utah’s kingmaker of the Republican Party label. CMV has done a pretty good marketing job to convince everyone that their king-making process, restricting ballot access to those with the deep pockets to collect signatures, is the superior way to do it.

Unfortunately, the caucus system dropping their primary threshold down to 50%+1 didn’t do anything to refute it, discarding what was arguably one of the most qualified candidates in the field, Deidre Henderson, in favor of constant firebrand and contender for the same Lifetime Losing Elections achievement award held by Merrill Cook and Morgan Philpot, Chris “immigrants are awful” Herrod. Of course, this false dichotomy plays right into their hands. It completely ignores any other alternatives and allows them to gloss over their significant issues.

One of the biggest problems is and continues to be a lack of ballot access. In some states, any registered voter can pay a small registration fee and appear on the ballot. That’s right, you don’t even have to gather signatures. The caucus/convention system has its flaws, but it certainly does make it easy for someone to at least have some kind of shot without deep pockets. CMV actively thwarts candidates getting onto the ballot through onerous and arbitrary requirements. This only gets worse if they also get their wish to kill off the caucus/convention route entirely.

Another large problem, one that is prominently on display in the latest CD3 GOP primary, is that you can get candidates with no clear mandate of support. No candidate got a majority of votes and I’ve seen various people choose to total up two candidates to show that any one of them had that percentage “opposing” them. This is a problem easily solved by IRV or ranked-choice voting systems, the latter of which has been actively worked on by Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck. CMV’s “solution”, though, seems to be about restricting who gets on the ballot to manage this issue, not giving voters better tools for expressing their electoral preferences among a multitude of choices.

CMV has some great marketing, but it’s really just a cover for Republicans who can no longer control the admittedly out of control caucus/convention system and want alternative means of controlling the party brand and label because it wins elections for whoever holds it in most of Utah’s races. Instead of trying to placate either side of this stupid street fight, we should be dispensing with both of them entirely to make a more fair and representative election system.

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