On the EDge: Utah has no voice in GOP primary

OPINION – Turn out the lights, the party’s over.

What started out late last year with a couple of straw polls and evolved into something that, at least for a short time, held promise of a little drama, ended Tuesday with a resounding thud as Texas pushed presidential hopeful Mitt Romney over the top in his bid for the Republican nomination.

For Romney, of course, it means he gets to take a break from the rigors of campaigning for enough delegates to make it all official when the Republican Party gathers in Tampa, Florida in late August to seal the deal.

But, for many voters, it’s like dropping the flag after racing 350 miles at the Indy 500, or declaring somebody as the world’s fastest human for a blazing time in the 80-meter dash. It’s a race incomplete.

The beauty of a primary election is that it forces candidates from both parties to go out on the stump, shake hands, kiss babies, and listen to the needs, wants, and desires of the voting public. During the election season, the voter gets to be the squeaky wheel for awhile, holding the attention of a candidate who is courting their vote. But, unless a candidate knocks on your door, how can you tell him what’s important?

As usual, Utah was snubbed again this year.

Most of the Republican primary ballots will be gathering dust before Utah goes to the polls on June 26. But, the Beehive state is not alone. California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota also have yet to go to the polls.

Romney will, of course, make a few token appearances here and there, even though at this point the remaining primary votes are as meaningful as a Justin Bieber song. His focus, however, will now switch to raising funds for his presidential run.

Utah voters?

Well, they will go to the polls at the end of June and push some buttons that will surely give Romney a few more delegates. But, if it wasn’t for the runoff between incumbent Orrin Hatch and upstart Dan Liljenquist to determine who will knock the tar out of the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in November, the turnout would be abysmal. Your vote in that race is meaningful. Your vote for Romney against the GOP field? Not so much. In fact, I would wager that at this point, Romney would rather you write a check to his campaign than check his name at the ballot box.

How did Utah get stiffed?

To be honest, this was one time when I can pat the Utah Legislature on the back. You see, when Jon Huntsman Jr. was running the show as governor, he pushed a bill through the Legislature that would bind the Utah presidential primary to the date of a Western Region Primary.

The thing is, Utah’s neighbors wouldn’t play along, refusing to participate in a regional primary. That resulted in the Utah primary getting kicked to back of the bus.

This voter inequity is why the United States is in desperate need of election reform.

The first thing that needs to go is the Electoral College, which is the greatest buzzkill there is for encouraging participation in the presidential election. It pretty much nullifies the power of your single vote. Besides, eliminating it would prevent the theft of a presidential election, like we saw in 2000.

The next thing that needs an overhaul is the way we pick our candidates, whether they wear the uniform of the Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians.

To do that, Congress should mandate that the country be divided into thirds, with a primary for the East Coast, Midwest, and West Coast eight weeks apart to give the candidates adequate time to touch the ground everywhere.

That would give each state more influence, more relevance, more recognition.

We are hearing a lot of the same complaints we heard during the midterm election two years ago, that our leaders are simply not listening, that they are not paying attention, that they just don’t get it. It’s a legitimate, across-the-board complaint from both sides.

Dumping the Electoral College and setting up regional primaries that would force these guys to drop into the neighborhood for more than just a fundraising visit could go a long way in grabbing their attention. I mean, are Utah’s needs really the same as those in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, or Massachusetts?

I don’t think so.

email: [email protected]edkoc[email protected]

twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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  • Pseudo-pseudo Dionysius May 31, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I doubt an overhaul of the selection process would do anything. The problem is with the candidates and the parties that are responsible for promoting them, not the process. This is because groups and individuals who discard their principles for the sake of electibility are not to be trusted. People who respond by saying ‘well, that’s politics’ should not complain about the results. Changing the dividing lines of the country, the electoral college, or the what-have-you affects the bureaucrats. Which is just fine with the hypocrites.

  • toto May 31, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in presidential elections. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. There would no longer be a handful of ‘battleground’ states where voters and policies are more important than those of the voters in more than 3/4ths of the states that now are just ‘spectators’ and ignored after the primaries.

    When the bill is enacted by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes– enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538), all the electoral votes from the enacting states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and DC.

    The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for President. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.

    A survey of Utah voters showed 70% overall support for the idea that the President of the United States should be the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. Voters were asked:
    “How do you think we should elect the President: Should it be the candidate who gets the most votes in all 50 states, or the current Electoral College system?”
    By political affiliation, support was 82% among Democrats, 66% among Republicans, and 75% among others.
    By gender, support was 78% among women and 60% among men.
    By age, support was 70% among 18-29 year olds, 70% among 30-45 year olds, 70% among 46-65 year olds, and 68% for those older than 65.

    In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state’s electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). Support for a national popular vote is strong among Republicans, Democrats, and Independent voters, as well as every demographic group in virtually every state surveyed in recent polls in closely divided Battleground states: CO – 68%, FL – 78%, IA 75%, MI – 73%, MO – 70%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM– 76%, NC – 74%, OH – 70%, PA – 78%, VA – 74%, and WI – 71%; in Small states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE – 75%, ID – 77%, ME – 77%, MT – 72%, NE 74%, NH – 69%, NV – 72%, NM – 76%, OK – 81%, RI – 74%, SD – 71%, UT – 70%, VT – 75%, WV – 81%, and WY – 69%; in Southern and Border states: AR – 80%,, KY- 80%, MS – 77%, MO – 70%, NC – 74%, OK – 81%, SC – 71%, TN – 83%, VA – 74%, and WV – 81%; and in other states polled: AZ – 67%, CA – 70%, CT – 74%, MA – 73%, MN – 75%, NY – 79%, OR – 76%, and WA – 77%. Americans believe that the candidate who receives the most votes should win.

    The bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers in 21 states. The bill has been enacted by 9 jurisdictions possessing 132 electoral votes – 49% of the 270 necessary to go into effect.

    Follow National Popular Vote on Facebook via NationalPopularVoteInc

  • B. Sharkey May 31, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Electoral College is a must go. Until it is gone we won’t have one-person one vote. We certainly have the technology to get this done, and I’m not counting Florida’s hanging chads as technology. We certainly don’t need the Supreme Court choosing our president ever again because of the fiasco displayed by Florida’s registrar of voters in 2000 election. Second on my list would be replacement of caucus system with primary system, which is transparently democratic.

  • tq2 June 1, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Ed, I’ve yet to see you write anything worth reading, and this is another example. You so despise conservative politics, and you’re so in love with all things liberal, left, and extreme left; that you couldn’t write anything positive about the GOP candidate–if it was God himself. Please go away, far, far away. Nobody in Utah cares about your worthless drivel.

  • Derick June 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Definitely support the idea of a National Popular Vote, I’m not a politician but I don’t think it would be very complex to figure out the details…

    Who are you tq2? Ed is a patriot, and you’re just a downer.

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