What is Keep My Voice? What is Count My Vote?
Keep My Voice is a Utah-registered PIC (Political Issues Committee) dedicated to improving and preserving the best grassroots political system in the world. Keep My Voice is staffed entirely by volunteers who have watched the neighborhood election Caucus system at work for decades and understand that the path to better government is found in candidates who listen to, and work for, their constituents.
Keep My Voice was founded to provide voters with the truth about the Caucus-Convention System, unlike the information than they are receiving from the political elites who support the “Count My Vote” (CMV) PIC, whose mission is to destroy the Caucus-Convention System and its ability to promote quality candidates. CMV makes false claims of being in the best interest of Utah voters. In reality, CMV will only benefit the state’s wealthiest and well-connected.
What’s a Caucus and what is a Delegate?
A Caucus is simply a gathering of politically like-minded people that live in the same neighborhood or Precinct and regularly conduct meetings based on political party rules and guidelines; it is the most basic and accessible grassroots level of government. You meet with your neighbors in your Precinct — a neighborhood voting group defined by law and found across all of Utah’s counties (you can find out your Precinct number by going to http://vote.utah.gov/vote/)
On Caucus night and elect people you trust to represent you called Delegates. These Delegates (1) fully scrutinize the candidates from your political party who are running for office, and (2) go to a convention and make the decision on which candidate or candidates should move on to the next step in the election process.
Just like you elect a mayor, city council, governor, senator, etc., to make local, state, or federal decisions and enact laws on your behalf, a caucus system allows you to elect neighbors, called delegates, from your precinct to study and vote on potential candidates for your political party. There are two different types of delegates: state and county.
Why are Delegates important?
Delegates are elected based on their good judgment and their commitment to vetting all party candidates. Delegates are responsible for meeting with the candidates from your political party between Caucus night and upcoming state and county conventions. They research the candidates’ positions, look into their records, and ask detailed and probing questions. Delegates can then inform and educate constituents in their Precinct and likewise seek input. After this process of gathering and sharing information, Delegates attend a Convention and vote on candidates that will eventually move on to a Primary or General Election. It’s important to note that in 2012 Utah had over 30,000 Delegates elected on Caucus night.
What are Benefits of the Caucus-Convention System?
- Quality Communication. In today’s age of spin through electronic communications and mass media campaigns, Utahns want personalized quality communication. We all know that there are political consultants and campaign machines that — for enough money — can package and sell most any candidate or message. Thoughtful voters want to cut through the high-dollar spin and base their decisions of candidates on personal interactions and meaningful conversations.
- A level playing field. Utah’s Caucus-Convention System gives average citizens — not just those with wealth and influence — a shot at successfully running for office. Candidates work hard to have meaningful interaction and communication with every Delegate. Conversely, targeting every potential voter in a Congressional district can be hugely expensive. For example, it can cost up to $50,000 for one small postcard that will be judged more by its flashy graphics and sound bites than by the character and qualifications of the candidate. Money is the name of the game when candidates have to run this sort of campaign. The result is that the lobbyists and those with money and access to money become the vetting committee, not the actual voter.
- Greater Accountability. When elected officials know they have to meet Delegates in person and answer tough questions, they are forced to make better decisions for everyone. The candidate must be informed themselves on issues or face loss of voter confidence. Candidates learn what issues are most important to their constituents and must choose to adapt or risk election. Such a process keeps candidates, and future elected officials, close to those they represent.
What are the Key Problems with Count My Vote?
- Misleading labeling on ballots. Count My Vote (CMV) allows candidates to run, without having to disclose their party affiliation, by gathering a set number of in order get their names on a party ballot. Anybody with enough money to hire workers to gatherer signatures can get their name on a primary election ballot as a “Republican,” “Democrat,” or any political party they claim to represent. There is no need for a candidate to disclose beliefs, values or positions on issues in connection with political party platforms. On the flip side, CMV requires candidates selected to represent a party through the Caucus-Convention system to be placed on the General Election ballot as “unaffiliated” candidates; they can’t even be recognized by party on the Primary ballot. In fact, the ballot must specifically note that these candidates are “not affiliated with a political party,” which is a clear misrepresentation.
- Cost. The CMV Initiative will cost taxpayers millions of dollars. The Governor’s Office of Management and Budget estimates the current CMV initiative would result in a total fiscal expense of up to $3.35 million every two years, including costs for runoff elections up to an additional $2.9.
- Rule by minority vote. CMV sets up a system that propagates rule by minority vote via eliminating the standard of electing candidates by majority vote. The winner of a CMV Primary would be the candidate “receiving the highest number of votes”, regardless of whether that number is 50% plus one vote of the total votes cast or only 10%. This means that any time more than one candidate representing or claiming to represent a majority view runs, it is possible that a candidate(s) representing minority views could easily win. On a ballot with several candidates, it is very probable the winner would be elected by less than a majority vote, and possible they could be elected by a very small percentage of the vote.
How is CMV Funded?
An elite group of well-connected and wealthy individuals is paying large sums to fund CMV. As of the end of January 2014, a handful of donors had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, including Donald Dunn (fundraiser and former Clinton White House official), whose firm, Opinion Group Corp., has already received more than $45,000 from CMV. Of the total donations made to CMV $143,000 from one donor, $25,000 each from 21 donors, and $10,000 up to $24,000 from another 12 donors (See http://www.disclosures.utah.gov/Search/PublicSearch/FolderDetails/1411317)
When is my Next Neighborhood Election Caucus Meeting?
Neighborhood Election Caucus Meetings are held every two years. The political parties in each county work out the specific dates and locations for the neighborhood election Caucuses. The next Republican and Democratic Caucus will be held on March 20. For more information follow the state’s respective party websites:
- Republican Party http://www.utgop.org/
- Democratic Party http://www.utahdemocrats.org/neighborhood-caucuses;
- Constitution Party http://utah.utah-constitution-party.org/;
*Note that Utah’s Libertarian Party does not currently have any active county parties, so will not be holding Caucuses this year. http://utahlp.tumblr.com/post/18189083904/utah-lp-does-not-use-a-caucus-system
How Can I Become a Delegate?
To be elected as a Delegate you must be 18 years old by the date of the next general election, be a Utah citizen and reside in the Precinct where you wish to be elected . You also must be a registered member of a political party to run. However, you can affiliate with the party on Caucus night if you are unaffiliated. It is helpful to determine your Precinct boundaries ahead of time and talk with other registered voters who are members of your political party in your Precinct. If you choose to run for Delegate, you should commit to the people in your Precinct that you will meet with all of the candidates and that you will spend the time it takes to fully research the candidates’ positions and voting records.
How Do I Register to Vote?
If you are not a registered voter, you can register to vote at http://vote.utah.gov/vote/ using your Utah driver license or state identification number.
What if I Can’t Attend the Caucus?
Attending your neighborhood election Caucus night is the best way for you to effectively evaluate the people who are running to be State and County Delegates, but political parties are working to make sure you can still participate even if you can’t attend. The Republican Party now provides same-day absentee balloting, as well as balloting for those who are out-of-state on military or missionary service. You are encouraged to meet or at least talk with the Delegate candidates before casting your vote.