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Group aims to change caucus and convention regulations

Group aims to change caucus and convention regulations

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SALT LAKE CITY — Some of Utah's heavy hitters are hoping to change how Utahns elect political leaders; they want there to be more options for political candidates to get on a party's primary ballot.

Political analysts in Utah say there is support behind the movement to change current regulations regarding the caucus and conventions system, even among state lawmakers. But publisher LaVarr Webb said elected officials are too dependent on the current system to keep getting them elected.

"For them to say they want to change that system might not have been a very smart thing to do, politically," Webb said.

Webb is joined by other big names of Utah political landscape, like former governor Mike Leavitt, Kirk Jowers with the Hinckley Institute of Politics and former Utah Republican Party Chair Dave Hansen. Their main goal, according to Webb, is to get more people involved in the political process and to create an alternative route for people to get their names on a primary ballot.

Their group, which doesn't have a name yet, believes the current system needs to be more open to people who want to participate. Webb said an election can really be won or lost at the caucus stage. Delegates are chosen at the caucuses, which then go to the convention, the attendees of which choose the candidates that will be named on a party's primary ballot.

Sometimes the vote at the caucus is the very most important vote in the entire election.

–LaVarr Webb, publisher

"Sometimes the vote at the caucus is the very most important vote in the entire election," Webb said.

Several measures and initiatives are being considered. The Utah Republican Party is considering changes to the system they can make from within the party. For instance, they could make changes to how people could participate in caucuses.

"Perhaps you let people in that voting district vote, like we do in other elections, over an entire day or they could vote early or vote by mail," Webb said.

However, it may take more than just changes within the party.

"The new group of delegates will be elected in 2014 and they can undo what previous delegates have done. So, we do think it needs to be a statutory change," Webb said.

If the party doesn't make big changes to this process, Webb's group said they'll petition to get a citizens' initiative on the 2014 ballot.

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Paul Nelson


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