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Presidential Caucus Article

On February 27th the Spectrum newspaper published my article regarding this years Presidential Caucus. 

http://www.thespectrum.com/story/opinion/2016/02/26/s-time-get-ready-mar...

 

It’s time to get ready for March 22 caucus

Ryan Nelson, Iron County Republican Party4:51 p.m. MST February 26, 2016

Utah Republicans will have two ways to vote for presidential candidate

 

The neighborhood caucuses in Utah will be held on the night of March 22. In order to facilitate and encourage greater participation, the Utah Republican Party has made a few changes, the biggest of which impacts the presidential election.

In addition to selecting precinct officers and convention delegates, we will also be using the caucus system to vote for a presidential nominee. There will not be a presidential primary in June. Anyone wishing to participate in the selection of a Republican presidential candidate will do so on March 22.

Registered Republicans will be able to vote for their preferred presidential candidate in two ways:

 

  • If a voter only wishes to vote for president, that can be done online anytime between 7 a.m.-11 p.m. on the day of caucus. The only requirements for participation are that the voter be a registered Republican and that he or she registers to participate online before March 20. To be clear, that is two separate registrations. Once registered to participate online, a ticket will be emailed to the voter containing a unique pin number. On caucus day, an online voter will login to the voting portal using the credentials provided on the ticket and make his or her selection using their unique pin number. Pin numbers associated with their vote will be publicly posted, so that voters may verify that their vote was reported as cast. Names will not be posted so as to protect the anonymity of the secret ballot.
  • If a voter is uncomfortable voting online or desires to participate in the selection of neighborhood representatives in addition to a presidential nominee, then we welcome everyone to attend their local caucuses. There are safeguards in place to prevent anyone from attempting to vote for president in both venues. At the local caucus, paper ballots will be cast, counted and turned in to the state party for verification. 

The other recent change was enacted two years ago.

Responding to the complaint that in-person caucus attendance is impractical for some voters, the state party changed its rules by allowing for absentee voting. If a registered Republican chooses to vote absentee, he or she can do so by voting online as described above for their presidential preference.

For neighborhood representatives, an absentee voter will print and complete a precinct-specific ballot from the state party website, seal it in a plain envelope, sign across the seal and deliver it along with a copy of a valid picture ID to someone they trust who will be attending a caucus in person. Upon check-in, the person entrusted with the absentee ballot delivers the ballot to the precinct officers who verify the ID and signature against the registered voter list. The ballot will then be placed aside until nominations are closed and voting begins. When votes are tallied, the absentee vote will be counted in every round in which the listed candidate is participating for the specified position.

We encourage potential candidates for every precinct office to also register online so that printed absentee ballots will include your name. Nominations can also be made in person on caucus night but those candidates likely will not benefit from absentee voters who will be unaware of their candidacy.

Every position in the precinct is important and valuable, but the selection of state delegates could prove to be an unusually powerful choice this season.

According to some sources, the National Republican Party is expecting a contested convention this year. Meaning that it is likely that none of the Republican candidates for president will have garnered sufficient support to seal the nomination prior to convention. If this actually happens, for the first time since Ronald Reagan, our delegates will have more than a token role to play in selecting our candidate for the November general election. A major role of state delegates elected in our neighborhood caucuses is to select delegates to attend the national convention and vote on our behalf for a nominee.

Delegates to the national convention are bound for the first round to vote, according to the preference expressed by the results of their states caucus or primary. But if subsequent rounds are required to secure the nomination, then most delegates are unbound or free to vote their conscience. The potential opportunity for influence of state delegates is as great this year as ever.

I support Utah’s caucus system. While not guaranteed, it has a greater capacity to consistently elect better candidates. At the same time, I recognize that it, like every other system, works better when everyone participates. I applaud the state party for being willing to innovate in seeking ways to involve more voters while protecting the integrity of the party and our rules.

For additional information about caucuses, as well as links to register, go online to utah.gop.

Ryan Nelson is chair of the Iron County Republican Party.