Bob Bernick’s notebook: Can Keep My Voice stop Count My Vote?

Congratulations, Count My Vote.

As of Thursday morning, the citizen initiative petition has qualified for the November ballot.

That is, CMV has qualified if a concerted effort by an anti-CMV, anti-SB54 group – Keep My Voice – is unsuccessful in getting some folks who signed the Count My Vote petition to take their names OFF of the petition.

We’ll see how that works out.

KMV has some big money behind it – Dave Bateman of Entrata fame – and they are paying their people to go to the homes of CMV signees, asking them to remove their earlier approval.

Bateman, on social media, says he walked an area of Spanish Fork the other day and got 10 of 11 people he talked to to remove their names.

But CMV leaders say they oversampled – or collected many more signatures than needed – especially in Utah County.

CMV is confident their signatures will hold up.

Under Utah’s strict initiative process, not only do petition-backers have to gather 113,000 signatures of registered voters statewide, they have to get at least 10 percent signatures in 26 of 29 state Senate districts.

That 10 percent is the tough level to meet.

Still, it appears now that CMV has the signatures.

If so, it would join the already successful petition to allow Utahns to use medical marijuana for specific diseases and pain relief.

Two other petitions still have not reached the initiative requirements – one that would set up a bipartisan, independent redistricting boundary commission, another to require Utah leaders to expand Medicare coverage under Obamacare.

You can see daily updates on the signature-verifying process here.

You can read the petitions’ language here.

As readers know, this is the CMV group’s second time around.

Back in 2014 CMV was well on its way to getting on the ballot (with a petition that would have ONLY allowed candidates into a primary election), when Republicans in the Utah Legislature offered a compromise: SB54.

If CMV stopped their petition drive, lawmakers and GOP Gov. Gary Herbert would adopt SB54, which actually SAVED the caucus/delegate/convention process by keeping that process and adding a signature-gathering option.

SB54 passed. The CMV leaders – which include former GOP Gov. Mike Leavitt and Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller – dropped the petition.

But the Utah Republican Party bosses – who never agreed to SB54 – started a series of lawsuits (all of which to date have failed).

Also, a few SB54-backers in the GOP-controlled House and Senate turned coats and opposed SB54.

And most of the newly-elected GOP House Republicans since have pushed for repeal or gutting of SB54.

So, seeing the political handwriting on the wall – and learning the lesson that the Utah Legislature can’t be trusted to keep its word – CMV went back into the field in 2017 with a renewed petition.

This time around, the CMV petition INCLUDES the current candidate dual pathway – signatures or convention, or both.

A smart political move, cutting the anti-SB54-types, like KMV – off at the knees, so to speak.

KMV tried to gather signatures so there would be two competing petitions on November’s ballot.

But they failed miserably, falling way short of signatures, and abandoned their efforts before petitions were due last month.

Now they are concentrating on getting enough pro-CMV signees to take their names off petitions, especially in a few Senate districts, so CMV will fail to make the ballot.

That might be possible.

For example, in Senate District 7 in the Spanish Fork area – the last Senate district to qualify – CMV only has 10 more signatures needed out of the 3,552 required.

However, CMV backers say, as a tactical move, they held back until the deadline last month many of their signature packets from Utah County.

Anti-SB54 folks have until May 15 to get signees to take their names off of the CMV petitions.

Then, by June 1, final petition signature tallies will be made – and we’ll see if the anti-CMV guys were successful in keeping that petition from voter approval this November.

I say voter approval, because UtahPolicy’s pollster – Dan Jones & Associates – has found pretty good support for the SB54, dual-path petition – with majorities above 60 percent.

Even registered GOP voters support CMV, with majorities in the mid- to upper-50 percentile.

Anyway, as of Thursday, CMV has made it.

I’ve been a candidate signature route supporter for years – although I also believe SB54, with the dual route – was a really good compromise.

The delegate/convention route may be the best for some candidates – so it should be part of the mix.

But ALL Republican candidates should have the option of gathering signatures, and making the closed, Republican primary ballot.

Where registered GOP voters can decide which candidate is best for them.

Time and time again, it’s been proven that Republican delegates are more conservative than rank-and-file GOP voters – and it should be the voters themselves who make final party candidate decisions.

There are 650,000 registered GOP voters in Utah, only 4,000 state Republican delegates.

Who do you think should be deciding which Republican candidates make it to the final general election?