Count My Vote organizers say a bid to kick the decision in the nomination process back to delegates if no candidate wins a majority in a primary election would be a violation of the compromise reached last year.
House Bill 313 from Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Santaquin, kicks the results of a primary election where no candidate wins a majority back to state delegates for a decision on the nomination. That's a real possibility under the compromise crafted by lawmakers and organizers of Count My Vote last year, which establishes two paths to the primary ballot. Multiple candidates could reach the primary by gathering signatures, while the caucus system could send one or two candidates to the primary, too. With enough candidates on the primary ballot, it's possible that someone emerges with less than 50% of the vote.
Putting that decision back in the hands of the delegates would ensure the candidate who emerged from the caucus would win the nomination. Count My Vote says that eventuality would be a fundamental violation of last year's compromise.
"We oppose HB 313. If it passes as written, it would undo the reforms the legislature agreed to last year," said Count My Vote executive director Taylor Morgan.
When asked if Count My Vote would re-launch their initiative to do away with the caucus system if HB 313 passes this year, Morgan bluntly said "yes."
"For decades, we've been okay with 0.4% of Republican party voters choosing candidates. So, to now suddenly be concerned about 40% seems inconsistent."
Also on Thursday morning, the Utah Senate beat back another attempt to undo the Count My Vote compromise.
Senators defeated SJR 2, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have given political parties unfettered power in deciding how their candidates are put on the ballot.
Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, the sponsor of the amendment, said the state has no right to interfere with a political party's nominating process.
"If a group can qualify to be a political party, then they have the right to decide how to put their candidates on the ballot."
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, asked if the Ku Klux Klan were to form a party under the amendment and decide that only white people could run, would that be legal. Jenkins said that would be up to them.
"I am concerned when we talk about exclusive rights of political parties," said Weiler. "When we talk about constitutional rights of political parties, they are private organizations. They don't have special rights above any other group."
Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, worried the proposed amendment would give political parties rights above those of individuals.
"What we would be doing is sanctioning, with public dollars, a constitutional right to a party that would trump individual liberty. That's a bridge way too far," he said.
In the end the Senate defeated the proposed amendment outright by a 14-15 vote.