POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah Republican Party opts out of 2024 presidential primary

Aug 16, 2023, 5:54 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2023, 11:00 am

FILE: Citizens crowd in classrooms at Mt. Logan Middle School in Logan, Utah a Republican caucus me...

FILE: Citizens crowd in classrooms at Mt. Logan Middle School in Logan, Utah a Republican caucus meeting. Both major parties in Utah will hold a caucus next Tuesday, March 5. (Sterling Morris)

(Sterling Morris)

SALT LAKE CITY — Registered Republicans in Utah better clear their schedules for March 5, 2024, if they want a say in who will be the party’s nominee for President.

Utah Republican Party Chair Robert Axson has informed the Lt. Governor’s Office that they will forgo the primary next March, in lieu of conducting a “presidential preference poll” during their caucus night on Super Tuesday.

Lindsay Aerts joins us at 9:05!

 

Lt Gov Presidential Preference Poll Letter by Simone Seikaly on Scribd

 

Axson told KSL NewsRadio that the reason is threefold: it saves taxpayer money by not running an election, it makes the caucus system more meaningful because more people will attend, and this is a “nice incentive,” and it incentivizes presidential candidates to come to Utah to earn support.

“Antiquated, unaccountable relic”

Those opposed to the caucus system believe it disenfranchises busy, working people who have family commitments, as well as those who live out of state or can’t attend. To them, voting by mail in a primary election solves those problems.

One critic of the move called the caucus path, “antiquated, insecure, and an unaccountable relic of last century.”

Axson said the party is still working through details, but said people who can’t attend can still cast a vote.

“We have an apparatus in place … [where we’ve] … permitted folks to provide a proxy vote,” he said.

“So somebody could submit a vote … that they could then have brought into caucus via a family member or a neighbor in a case where they cannot attend.”

Axson didn’t say specifically how they would conduct the voting or keep it secure.  But he said that in the past they’ve allowed for a photocopy of an ID with a signature accompanying the person’s vote.

“For deployed military and things there would be an online portal for that,” Axson said.

Axson said the votes would be tallied by a precinct chair, who would pass those up the chain. All the precincts in those districts would then be compiled by the county party, then up to the state party to aggregate.

“We will have a very clear counting process … as well as (a process) for it to be seen and done transparently,” he said.

Not their first presidential poll

Axson said the party conducted a presidential poll in 2016.

“It worked out in 2016, we had the results later that night. I’m confident we will have the logistics worked out,” he said. “We’ve seen that it was a benefit for the state and it created additional engagement.”

The head of the group that created Utah’s signature-gathering path to the ballot, Count My Vote blasted the move.

“The caucus convention process is antiquated, insecure, and an unaccountable relic of last century,” said Executive Director Taylor Morgan in a statement. 

Morgan has criticized the party in the past for not doing enough to get voters engaged in caucus nights.

“By opting out of Utah’s official voting methods and all election security protections, the [Utah GOP] will limit participation in the 2024 Republican presidential primary.”

You can find the full interview with Robert Axson on KSL at Night below.

Taylor Morgan is a host for KSL at Night and is employed by the company that owns KSL NewsRadio.

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Utah Republican Party opts out of 2024 presidential primary