Count My Vote, Keep My Vote
It is time to wipe all the effects of SB 54 off Utah’s electoral law and start over. As one who’s now taken part in two elections since that was enacted, it is obvious that the whole thing was poorly thought through, poorly written and remains confused and erratically enforced.
Political parties are private associations of individuals, who choose to work together in an attempt to accomplish goals. They are not a branch of government which operates at the whim of legislators. As such, how a party chooses it candidates is entirely an internal matter for that party. By caucus/convention, by convention only, by a primary, or by pulling a name out of a hat – it is up to the party to decide its own process.
The notion that an individual may choose to get themselves on the ballot by gathering signatures is a fine one – but any candidate who chooses this route should be listed on the ballot as an independent, not as the candidate of a party. Let parties choose their candidates as they wish, and let those who do not approve have access as well.
The easy solution that makes it all work is ranked preference voting, sometimes known as instant runoff voting. Instead of voting for one candidate from a list, the voter ranks them in their preferred order. First place votes are tallied for all candidates, and if one has a majority of votes cast that candidate is elected. If not, then the candidate with the lowest total is eliminated, and the votes for that candidate are them allocated to the second choice which those voters indicated, and so on until a candidate reaches a majority of votes cast.
It’s a great system – no more elected officeholders who did not receive a majority alone is a great benefit. Adapting it for conventions would eliminate costly primaries. We have the technology to do it right now.
The initiative process for Utah citizens is too restrictive.
While the initiative process has gotten out of hand in a few states, tying the hands of legislatures and causing enormous expense both in administering elections and defending legal challenges, the extreme difficulty of placing an initiative on the Utah ballot needs to be addressed. The possibility of a citizen’s initiative is an important motivating factor for legislators to act, and knowing the slim chance of a ballot initiative becoming qualified allows legislators in Utah to be unresponsive.
Good government is from the bottom up, not from the top down.
The attempt by the legislature in 2018 to undermine the initiative process – by placing the effective date of any initiative that is passed a year or more into the future – was pathetic and infuriating.
It is time to retire the “Straight Party Line” voting option.
The straight-line, or party ticket voting option is a device that is used by the two major parties to keep smaller parties from winning “down-ballot” races. The truth is that small-party candidates are more likely to win local level races than they are to win the marquee ones, and tying the votes in those races to votes for President or Governor is a trick of the Democrats and Republicans to preserve their hegemony. At the very least, all four Utah ballot-qualified parties should appear with a straight-line option (Democrat, Republican, Libertarian and Constitution), but even better, let’s just consign it to the dustbin of history where it belongs. We have, after all, touch-screen voting – should we really be accomodating people who can’t be bothered to touch the screen more than once?