Commentary: Count My Vote would take away accountability of elected officials

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Taylor Morgan of Count My Vote spoke at the Count My Vote public hearing at the Whitmore Library in Cottonwood Heights, Friday, Oct. 27, 2017. The Count My Vote ballot initiative seeks to select party nominees through a direct primary, in addition to the traditional caucus-convention system.

Whether or not you agree that the caucus and convention system, which did not favor the incumbent, wealthy or famous, as being a good thing, the new Count My Vote initiative version 2.1 is worse.

Currently you can at least watch what your legislator does during the session and, if you don’t like it, you can either run or help someone run against them by filing after the session ends.

Count My Vote (CMV) version 2.1 changes the deadline to be selected by the party or to submit signatures by the first business day after March 1.

They are saying we have to have the caucus and county and state party conventions during February, when the Utah Legislature is meeting. This takes away part of the accountability of these elected officials.

Most of the bills will pass after the new proposed filing deadline and it will take time prior to qualify and so it would be two years until you have a chance to hold your state representative accountable, or perhaps four years for your state senator or governor, depending on their end of term.

So much for accountability to the people. Is this initiative written to protect incumbents? Do we call this Count My Vote or Blank Check Vote?

So if this is just bad policy, what is the major problem technically? The new CMV v2.1 violates the Utah Constitution.

The state constitution is very clear a referendum can not repeal bills passed by a two-thirds vote of both legislative houses. This initiative is written to include repeal of bills or laws, even before they exist, violating the part of the state Constitution they are using to create CMV v2.1.

Are there other major problems? While it will cost less to get on the primary ballot under CMV v2.1, it will cost a lot more to actually run and win elections making lobbyists and corporations, or the wealthy and famous, even more powerful in elections.

Utah actually tried run off elections in the 1930s and 1940s. It was a disaster for voter turnout, and voters and media demanded the return of the caucus and convention system. Under CMV v2.1, there are no geographical requirements for signatures within a district or state so the potential of fly over counties, cities, and areas becomes much worse.

What should Count My Vote v2.1 actually change? If they really want to change elections, they should eliminate straight party voting as people can now get on the general election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate with signatures, bypassing the political parties, and have been able to do so for decades. The candidates just have a harder time wining as an unaffiliated with straight party voting. CMV v2.1 does nothing to help unaffiliated voters. Removing straight party voting would.

The next thing they should look at is Ranked Choice Voting and not the expensive run off primaries that are part of CMV v2.1. These have poor voter turnout and cost millions each election.

Don’t sign their “Direct Primary Election Act” initiative. It makes elections worse and not better.

Fred C. Cox

Fred C. Cox, a West Valley City architect, served two terms in the Utah House of Representatives and is running again this year as a Republican candidate in District 30.