Nearly 2/3 of Utahns support giving candidates a path to the primary ballot that is outside of the current caucus and convention system.
A new statewide UtahPolicy.com survey conducted by Dan Jones and Associates poll finds 62% support the "Count My Vote" effort to allow candidates to get on Utah's primary ballot through a petition rather than navigating the current caucus and convention system. Less than a third say they oppose "Count My Vote"
49% of Republicans said they support "Count My Vote" while 41% are opposed. Nearly 85% of Democrats and 73% of independent voters favor "Count My Vote."
During the 2014 legislative session lawmakers passed a compromise, SB 54, that provided for an alternative route to the primary ballot, while preserving the current caucus and convention system. A candidate who chose to not go through the convention, or couldn't win the nomination through the current system, could gather signatures and still make it on to the primary ballot.
Recently the Utah Republican Party filed a lawsuit against that compromise, claiming it is unconstitutional. The same poll found nearly 55% of Utahns favor the compromise passed by the legislature, while about 1/3 (32%) oppose the compromise measure.
Just 44% of Republicans favor keeping SB 54 as-is, while the same number are opposed. 89% of Democrats and 61% of independent voters support SB 54 in its current form.
Rich McKeown, executive co-chair of Count My Vote, was pleased with the poll numbers.
"Consistently over the course of time we have believed the public is behind Count My Vote," he said. "We feel the mainstream and a large majority of this state favor a change that will result in more voter participation in the electoral process."
As for the numbers showing Utahns oppose the GOP lawsuit against SB 54, McKeown said "It's been remarkable to watch a small group of people fight to preserve a system the majority clearly does not want. It's amazing to see the extent they will go to in order to preserve the status quo."
Utah GOP Chairman James Evans says he's not surprised by the numbers.
"This poll is about the 'high-level' view of Count My Vote," he said. "These answers are not unexpected. Utahns support the idea of Count My Vote."
Evans says the party will be conducting their own public opinion polling about their lawsuit.
"In order for us to comply with SB 54 as written, we would have to make changes this year. If we can't do that, we won't have any Republicans on the ballot in 2016. Once Utahns understand the unintended consequences of SB 54, they'll be less supportive."
Evans says they will be in the field with their own polling beginning next week.