House Committee Advances Bill to Move Utah's Presidential Primary to First in the Nation

Written by Bryan Schott on . Posted in Today At Utah Policy

Utah took another big step toward moving to the front of the line in the 2016 presidential nominating process.

A House committee approved Rep. John Cox's HB 410, which would make Utah's presidential primary the first in the nation - ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.

"I believe our Presidential nomination process is blatantly discriminatory," says Cox. "It creates second-class states. Iowa and New Hampshire get an inordinate amount of attention because they go first, and the only reason they get to go first is we let them go first."

In the past, anytime a state would try to leapfrog New Hampshire or Iowa, those states would simply move their elections up. Cox's bill has a unique provision that would make the game of electoral chicken harder. Utah would conduct their voting online.

The bill tasks the Lt. Governor's office to find out whether it's feasible to have an online election and report back to the Legislature. If they accomplish that task, lawmakers could then move ahead with moving the primary up ahead of those other early states - Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

"The parties point out that the four states that go ahead of everybody else are somehow representative of the whole country with one state from every region. Does Nevada really represent Utah in that process? If it does, that's problematic."

The Republican National Committee has rules to prevent Utah and other states from moving to the front of the line by slashing the number of delegates they send to the national convention. Cox says that's not a big issue for Utah.

"The RNC says any state that attempts to leapfrog Iowa or New Hampshire will have their delegates stripped down to 9. New Hampshire only has 12 to begin with and they still matter. Why do they matter? Simply because they are first. This has gone on too long."

Cox said this would give Utah a chance to flex its high-tech muscles a bit on a big stage.

"We brag that we are the 'silicon slopes; of the West. This is a chance to prove it."

The bill passed out of committee on a 9-2 vote and now heads to the House.