Utah GOP Bracing for Big Turnout on Caucus Night

GOP Logo 04Utah Republican Party officials are bracing for unprecedented turnout for their caucus meetings on March 22.

Executive Director Brian Smith says the unprecedented decision to move their presidential vote to the March 22 caucuses, along with a new online component, has them preparing for big numbers that night.
“We have been telling folks to plan for triple,” says Smith. “If you had six volunteers in 2014, we’re telling our caucus people to recruit 18. If you had two people managing check-in, make sure you get six this time. We really have no idea what is going to happen, but, at least, triple is what we’re planning on.”
A good part of that increased turnout is due to the fortuitous decision to move the Utah GOP nominating contest from a June primary to the March caucus because there’s a heated race for the Republican nomination this year between Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich. That alone will boost turnout.
For the first time, caucus-goers will be able to vote for president online. While that’s an exciting and novel concept, perhaps a bigger advantage for the party though is the ability for in-person caucus attendees to pre-register online as well. That will cut down on delays and confusion at the neighborhood meetings that evening.
“Our county parties realize how beneficial this is. If someone has moved or any of those other issues that clog the lines at caucus, we’re vetting through a lot of those at the state level because people are pre-registering,” says Smith.
Utah’s Republican caucuses are closed, meaning only registered Republicans can participate. Smith says the process they’re using for online registration is helping them weed out any problems ahead of time. The system they’re using runs a registrant’s name against the voter database to determine if they match. If they do, they are credentialled and can participate. If not, the name is kicked back to the state party so they can run down any problems.
“We have a full room of interns and people making calls to help people through that process,” says Smith.
The online registration for either the presidential caucus or in-person meetings ends on Tuesday of next week. Smith says anyone hoping to take advantage of that should make sure they’re registered as a Republican with the state as soon as possible. 
Smith also says the response was slow at first, but it’s growing faster as the deadline approaches. 
“Utah is a last-minute state if not a 15-minute-late state. We are seeing the number of people registering rising, and that will grow exponentially.”