Utah takes another step toward picking a fight with New Hampshire and Iowa in the presidential primary arena.
HB 410 directs the Lt. Governor’s office to investigate how whether Utah’s presidential primary can be conducted online. If they can resolve security and privacy issues, and the Legislature chooses to fund it, Utah’s election would then move to first in line – ahead of those traditional early states.
Rep. Jon Cox (R-Ephriam) says letting New Hampshire and Iowa go first every four years is blatantly discriminatory.
“We are the same size as Iowa and double the size of New Hampshire,” said Cox. “Our impact on the process is minimal.”
New Hampshire’s Secretary of State, Bill Gardner, opposes Utah’s attempt to encroach on his state’s territory, telling the Salt Lake Tribune he wishes Utah wouldn’t try to leapfrog the Granite State.
If Utah does try to move ahead, Republican National Committee rules would strip Utah of delegates to the convention – dropping Utah’s total from 40 to just 9.
Cox says the influence on the process and attention Utah would receive by going first outweighs any penalties that may come.
“For too long we’ve allowed these other states to decide how this plays out. Two of our own members of Congress have already gone to Iowa to raise funds for other candidates – one was a county recorder in a county the same size as Tooele.”
Cox’s bill passed on a 58-14 vote and heads to the Senate.