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, by throwing darts or by pulling a name out of a hat – it is up to the party to decide its own process. And, that party should be responsible for paying for that process, including the cost of running primaries. (More about that later.)
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 ballot 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 then 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 – just having 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, and save Utah taxpayers millions of dollars – and also stop taking the taxes of those who are not a member of a party that runs primaries and spending them for the benefit of a private organization. That’s just simply wrong to do.
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.
Let’s just consign it to the dustbin of history where it belongs. Most of us vote at our own pace at our dining room table, and for those who vote in person. we have touch-screen voting. It’s pointless except as a way of delivering unearned votes to down-ticket races.
By the way – Republicans in particular should be opposed to straight ticket voting. It was originally devised for the election of 1828 by Democrats, who put a picture of a donkey on a ballot listing the names of Democratic candidates so that it was easier for illiterate people, who could not read, to vote! Why a donkey? The Democratic candidate for president was Andrew Jackson, who was referred to by his detractors as “General Jackass”.