The Utah Elections Office will announce this week whether the Count My Vote citizen initiative will be on November’s ballot or not.
But a new UtahPolicy.com poll by Dan Jones & Associates shows no doubt:
By nearly two-thirds, Utahns want CMV to become law in Utah.
As you may know, the opponents of the dual-track process for candidates to get on party primary ballots – the Keep My Voice group, made up mostly of archconservative Republicans – is trying to keep Count My Vote off of the ballot.
They have sued GOP Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who oversees the elections office, and KMV has run an extensive campaign trying to get signees of Count My Vote petitions to take their names off of the documents.
Utah law says a citizen initiative must get signatures of 10 percent of the vote in the last presidential election (just over 113,000 voter signatures) AND get signatures of at least 10 percent of the vote in 26 of 29 state Senate districts.
Early counts by Cox’s office shows Count My Vote made the grade – both statewide and in 26 Senate districts.
But if KMV can get a few hundred signees in one, two or three Senate districts to remove their names, then Count My Vote’s effort would fail.
(Editor’s note: The full text of the question was “Do you support or oppose the Count My Vote ballot initiative, which will allow candidates a dual path to their primary ballot: by having 1 percent of registered voters in the district sign a petition supporting a candidate; or through the traditional caucus/convention process; or both at the same time?”)
That certainly is not what most Utahns want, Jones’ new survey shows.
It is not even what most Utah Republicans want, either.
63 percent of all Utahns “strongly” or “somewhat” support the Count My Vote initiative – which solidifies the current SB54 dual-track process into state law.
Only 22 percent “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose Count My Vote.
And 16 percent don’t know.
Although the Utah Republican Party nearly bankrupted itself over suing the state over SB54, Jones finds:
53 percent of Republicans support Count My Vote.
Only 29 percent of Republicans oppose it.
And 18 percent of Republicans don’t know.
Democrats and political independents love CMV:
Democrats support it, 79-9 percent, with 12 percent undecided.
Independents, who don’t belong to any political party, support CMV, 69-17 percent, with 13 percent undecided.
The Keep My Voice group – which has torn apart the upper echelons of the Utah Republican Party – say they are trying to protect, and make relevant – the traditional caucus/delegate/convention process, whereby a Republican candidate must be vetted by county or state GOP delegates before they can win the nomination outright by a supermajority of delegate votes, or advance to a closed Republican primary.
However, both SB54 and now the Count My Vote initiative allows a candidate to take the caucus/delegate/convention route, or take both the signature and convention route at the same time.
It also allows for candidates to take the signature route only, and bypass convention delegates altogether.
KMV and its backers are generally recognized as archconservatives.
But Jones finds that even among those Utahns who self-identified as “very conservative” politically, Count My Vote is supported by 50 percent.
Thirty-six percent – or just over one third – of the “very conservative” Utahns oppose Count My Vote, while 15 percent don’t know.
“Somewhat conservative” Utahns support CMV, 56-29 percent, with 15 percent don’t know.
“Moderates” support CMV 70-14 percent, with 17 percent don’t know.
“Somewhat liberal,” 72-12 percent CMV, with 15 percent undecided.
And among those who are “very liberal,” 82 percent support CMV, 7 percent oppose, and 11 percent don’t know.
There is an age difference on this question, too.
Those who are 18-24 years old – 45 percent support, 29 percent oppose, with 25 percent (or one-fourth) don’t know.
Those who are 65 years old or older support Count My Vote, 72-17 percent, with only 12 percent don’t know.
This is perhaps because older Utahns have had more time to actually attend a party neighborhood caucus and become party delegates themselves – and so they have seen the KMV process up close and personal, and don’t much like it.
There is also an education level revealed in the data:
Those with just a high school degree favor Count My Vote, 54-23 percent, with 23 percent undecided.
Those with post-college degrees, like a lawyer, doctor or holding a Masters degree, favor Count My Vote, 73-19 percent, with 8 percent undecided.
By June 1, Friday, Cox’s office is supposed to certify formally, or not, the four citizen initiatives that turned in signatures this year – all having met the early, non-official counts needed.
However, besides the KMV folks suing Cox in court, the anti-medical marijuana petition people have also filed suit in state court.
So it is likely judges will ultimately decide whether the initiatives are on the ballot this November or not.
Finally, as with some other issues, the CMV could impact the close race in Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
Republican Rep. Mia Love is an advocate of the caucus/delegate/convention process. Her Democratic opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, likes CMV.
UtahPolicy.com asked Love to clarify her stand on the petition – in two elections under SB54 she has not taken the signature-gathering route, only gone to the convention. She responded:
“While I support the system in which I have been four times nominated, this is a decision for the voters of Utah to make.”
In the 4th District, 63 percent of voters support CMV, only 21 percent oppose.
In the conservative 3rd Congressional District, Rep. John Curtis owes his office to SB54 – he was eliminated in the GOP special delegate convention but won the primary last year, getting on the ballot via signatures.
In the 3rd District, 71 percent of citizens support Count My Vote, only 17 percent oppose it.
Jones polled 615 adults statewide from May 15-25. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.