POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Utah GOP chair addresses Super Tuesday caucus meltdown

Mar 6, 2024, 5:54 PM | Updated: 5:56 pm

Caucus Republican...

Caucus goers attending the Utah GOP caucus /presidential preference poll at Bingham High School on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. (Derrick Jones, KSL NewsRadio)

(Derrick Jones, KSL NewsRadio)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s GOP chair said lessons need to be learned after the caucus process at some locations on Tuesday failed, leaving Republican voters frustrated and angry.

 House District 45 Chairman Don Cann oversaw the caucus Tuesday evening at Bingham High School.

Cann said of his 31 precinct chairpeople, most are seniors who struggle with technology.

“The Republican Party is, you know, chocked full of senior citizens,” he said.

Also, he said, they were unprepared for the “massive” turnout of people showing up all at once. That caused caucusing to start 45 minutes late.

“And the reason for that is we had massive failures of the (Utah GOP) server that kept crashing,” said Cann.

He added that a man “got in his face” and threatened to sue him last night.

“I said, ‘Hey, we’re all Republicans here. I’m a volunteer. I don’t do this for a living.'”

Cann blames Utah GOP Chair Robert Axson for the debacle.

“He dropped the ball — this entire plan was bad. This whole thing should have been handled on paper ballots,” he said.

But Axson is looking for a positive angle.

“I think the messiness — quote unquote — of what happened last night is also a sign of a very strong Democratic process and one that I’m proud of,” he said.

 

Voters respond to Utah GOP caucus chaos

“What was so unsettling is we were literally handed out ballots. We had to fill it in. It was almost like somebody cut it out with scissors, these ballots,” said KSL host David Noriega.

“(They were) on just regular paper. It wasn’t like high-quality. So it felt a little bit like high school, and everyone’s just kind of voting for their friends. It just was very informal,” he said.

Heather [no last name provided] who voted at Maple Mountain High School said there were no technical issues to contend with, but she was told to hand her official ballot to a lady volunteer who, she said, stuffed it in her own purse.

“I just didn’t know what to do. I just started laughing,” Heather said.

On Tuesday night, others told KSL NewsRadio, of problems at their caucuses:

  • “My brother’s at Copper Hills High School. There’s a huge wait to check in for caucus, and the system crashed.”
  • “Absolute chaos at Alta High School for District 42 caucuses. People are unable to register due to the system crashing. Hours-long lines and tempers flaring.”

Republican Party leader talks about caucus night

Axson maintains that for most people, voting in the Utah GOP caucus on Super Tuesday was simple. 

“The vast, vast majority of those, you know, went very well and smoothly, and really it was the check-in process in a couple of locations [that] got overwhelmed,” Axson said.

“And … we missed the mark on that. We’ll have to have those lessons learned,” said Axson, who acknowledged some precincts, especially along the Wasatch Front, had encountered “challenges.”  

As far as votes not being tallied or stuffed into a purse, Axson said it’s important to think about context.

“I think it’s important to have the context of 2,400 precinct locations around the state of Utah in hundreds of physical locations. And the vast majority of those went very well were well-attended and ran smoothly.”

Related:

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Utah GOP chair addresses Super Tuesday caucus meltdown