Some people who are used to controlling some key chokepoints of power in Utah are apparently alarmed that they might have to surrender some of their outsized influence.
Two groups are mounting expensive, last-ditch efforts to derail two state ballot initiatives that otherwise appear to be well on their way to a vote.
One of the rearguard actions has been launched by a handful of political activists who want to keep political power in the hands of a self-selected few. The other is the work of a larger group of medical and law enforcement professionals who are sure they know better than we do what’s good for us and don’t care what we think.
These counterinsurgencies are legal, and those pursuing them are well within their legal and constitutional rights.
But it is also the right of the people of Utah to ignore them and retain their ability to vote on these important matters come November. Democracy would be well served if that’s exactly what happened.
In one corner, there is Keep My Voice, an oddly named group that wants to make sure that the power to choose public officials in Utah — at the national, state and county levels — remains the exclusive purview of a relative handful of caucus-goers and convention delegates.
That group has vocally, and at some cost, worked hard to stop the Count My Vote movement at every turn. CMV, you remember, is the campaign to provide two ways for Republican and Democratic office-seekers to get on a primary election ballot: the traditional caucus/convention path and gathering signatures on nominating petitions.
We’ve gone though one election cycle, and are in the midst of another, with the two-track system. All indications are that it works, that it is popular and that it has, as its creators intended, tended to favor more moderate candidates over activists of the far right within the state’s dominant Republican Party.
This year’s Count My Vote initiative would cement the duel-track nominating process into law as it makes the required signature-gathering numbers much more manageable. It belongs on the ballot.
The other initiative is the one that would create a specific Utah regimen of rules and procedures for those who suffer from a limited list of serious maladies so they could use some marijuana products for medical purposes. The initiative has widespread support and is likely to come before us in November.
Unless, that is, a group called Drug Safe Utah is successful in getting enough people who have already signed the medical marijuana petition to contact their county clerks to withdraw their assent.
This outfit, which includes the Utah Medical Association, the local narcotics task force and the ultra-right Eagle Forum, claims folks who have signed the medical marijuana petition have been misled. Which is possible, though it is the UMA’s arguments that flunked a detailed fact-check run by the Standard-Examiner in Ogden.
If one or both of these initiatives were to reach the required number of signatures necessary to be placed on the ballot, then have that success snatched away at the last minute, it would be legal.
But it would send a message to all the residents of our state that their views are not valued and their voices don’t count. That would leave a bad taste in the mouth of our democracy for some time to come.
We agree with Gov. Gary Herbert, who actually opposes the medical marijuana initiative, that the questions should go on the November election. Then, we will all decide.