If Utah lawmakers make changes to the Count My Vote compromise reached last year, organizers of the initiative say they're ready to again take their case to the people.
The Utah Senate is set to debate SB 43, sponsored by Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, early this week. That bill would push back implementation of the compromise in 2018 instead of 2016 as originally agreed upon.
Taylor Morgan, executive director of Count My Vote, says his group hopes lawmakers stick to their word, but they're ready to move ahead with re-launching their initiative if changes are made.
"Our approach with the legislature has always been 'trust, but verify'," says Morgan. "We have confidence that the legislators will keep their word and they'll uphold the integrity of the process from last year. I think they understand that all the polling indicates that Utahns want a change for an open system."
A recent UtahPolicy.com survey found support for the caucus system at just 14%, while 43% prefered an open primary. 36% say they like the dual-track system established under the Count My Vote compromise last year.
Lawmakers have already defeated a House bill to delay implementation of the compromise until 2018. Morgan says if they have to re-launch the initiative effort, they are well-positioned for success.
"An initiative is never easy in Utah. If we were to start after this session, we would have a lot more time. We'd be gathering signatures during the spring and summer, and we'd have all the way until mid-April of 2016. Last time, we didn't start until October."
Morgan says when they stopped, they had well over 115,000 signatures. Organizers are confident those signers would come back. Plus, they say the financial support would be there, too.
"Our donors are watching the legislature carefully," he said. They've already committed to support another initiative. If the legislature takes the agreement away, we would certainly have support to do the initiative again."