Friday, December 20, 2013

The Same Day Ballot for the Neighborhood Caucus Election Republican Meeting

The Same Day Ballot for the 2014 Neighborhood Caucus Election Republican Meeting

It started about a year ago with some at the Utah Republican State Central Committee (SCC) trying to figure how to grant an exception or maybe even a proxy vote for some that couldn't come to the  the Neighborhood Caucus Election Meeting.

The idea of a Proxy Vote was defeated, and it has taken many months to come up with a Same Day Ballot (SDB) system. It has many protections so it isn't a proxy vote. The person prints out their own ballot, which has a number to avoid copying it. They fill out their own ballot that day and put it in an envelope, seal it, and sign across the seal, so we know it wasn't someone else. They provide the ballot and copies of their state ID to whoever is bringing the ballot that allows those receiving it to check the signature and make sure the person is a registered voter in the precinct. The ID is given back to the person that brought in the ballot so we don't have issues with ID theft or party liability for the ID copies.

It was structured in such a way to allow the mom who was planning on coming to the neighborhood caucus election meeting, but her kids got sick to still vote, or the firefighter, for example, that had to work that night. We want people to come to the meeting, but things can come up that can't be controlled. The Same Day Ballot (SDB) is designed to not provide an incentive for people to avoid the meeting. The person that just had knee surgery that uses a SDB, is not likely to be able to come, and the SDB will actually increase the number participating and not decrease it.

Because the ID with the ballot was given outside the envelope, the party never gets control of it, and the person selected to deliver the ballot is going to be a spouse, family member or trusted friend. People will not give a copy of their ID to someone they don't know. That would make sure someone representing a campaign didn't try to abuse the system.

We added a pre-meeting before the Neighborhood Caucus Election Meeting from 6pm to 7pm and advance registration, to encourage, but not require, those wanting to run for delegate or precinct chair, etc. to let people know in advance so those that couldn't come would know who to vote for, and have time to call them up and ask questions. The SDB allows a write in vote, so if they know or want someone to be nominated that night, they can vote for them as well.

The next concern, which was discussed in Filmore, during the October 26th SCC meeting, was a limit as to how many of the Same Day Ballots could be brought in by one person.

Since we live in Utah, and we also have small rural towns, there are people that are trusted in each community that could pick up quite a number of the SDB. The proposal in Fillmore was to limit the number of SDB's a person could bring in to one (1). That was discussed and rejected. five (5) was a number discussed, but it wasn't approved either. We wanted to have a large enough number to make sure the mom or the firefighter could find someone to bring their SDB in, or if a family got sick, the voters in the household would turn in their votes, but small enough so as to not encourage abuse. On Saturday, Dec. 14th, the SCC decided three (3) was the best number for the limit of SDB's a person could bring in.

Some have raised concerns that the number 3 would be limiting. In the September 21st SCC meeting, a resolution titled "Resolution to Increase Voter Participation and Defend the Utah Neighborhood Election" passed the committee with no one voting against it, so the majority, and perhaps all the members of the SCC believe we want increased voter participation. We had over 110,000 voters come to the Republican Neighborhood Caucus Election Meeting, and we made improvements so that number can continue to increase. It has doubled and then doubled again. We don't know that we will have 250,000 voters show up in 2014, but we want to be as prepared for that as we can, and we want to hear more from those running at the same time.

It was made clear that the limit of 3 would not limit the number of firefighters that could participate, as they would each have family and friends that could deliver the ballot for them. It was also make clear that this limit would not apply to the Same Day Military & Mission Ballots that are sent to the precinct chair and vice chair. That had other protections to make sure we know who is voting.

I would be happy to provide more information.

Fred C. Cox, representing Salt Lake County on the Utah Republican State Central Committee.

Note, the approx. 180 committee members were elected by either state or county delegates which total 4000 (state) or approx. 10,000 (county), that were elected by over 110,000 registered Republican voters in 2012. Each county has at least 2 or more members.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Meet and Greet with Attorney General Candidates in West Valley

On December 4, 2013 I arranged a meet and greet opportunity at the Hunter Library large meeting room in West Valley to discuss which candidates to nominate as Utah Attorney General to the Governor for the currently vacant office, prior to the Utah Republican State Central Committee (SCC) meeting and vote on December 14th. The filing deadline is December 6th at 5pm. As a member of the committee, I will be voting for 3 nominees. I also have opened an account with the Lt. Governor to run for the Utah House District 30 next year. I felt like this would be a good chance for people in the area to give me feedback.

I invited specifically, via Facebook many average voters that I knew that live in my area (approx. 350), and posted the Facebook event on my political page, and shared the event on my personal Facebook profile, where I approach 3000 friends, State Central Committee Facebook Group. At least 400 people saw the event on Facebook that was linked back to my page. The potential was for several thousand to know about the event. I sent emails to approx. 170  people in my area that had sent me emails about issues when I was in office as a member of the Utah House of Representatives during 2011 and 2012. That list includes many democratic party affiliated and unaffiliated voters.  At least one or two Salt Lake Republican Party senate chairs had forwarded the email to precinct chairs. I also invited via email, Facebook and by phone any candidates for AG that have filed with the Utah State Republican Party along with several that have said they were considering running.

Two of the candidates, Michael J. Wilkins, and Scott Burns contacted me and said they had conflicts and couldn't make it. A few mentioned they had other meetings that night but would be able to drop by at sometime during the discussion and a couple said they would be there the whole time.

Bret Rawson came early and was able to talk to one member of the SCC that had a conflict and needed to leave early, but had come to see if they could still catch any of the candidates. She had to leave prior to the 7pm start time. Brent Ward was there by 7pm. Several other attendees came and after an informal chance to talk one on one we began the meeting with a prayer and pledge.

The candidates were given 5 min. to introduce themselves. Bret Rawson started followed by Brent Ward. At that point Michelle Mumford was there and also took 5 min. All 3 moved their chairs to the front of the room to field questions from those that came. After a few questions had been answered by those 3, Rep. Dan McCay arrived. While he hadn't filed yet, he had told others he was considering running and was asked to come to the front and also answer questions and introduce himself. The other candidates agreed, mentioning they would rather have him upfront, than sit in the back and take notes on them with the potential of still running. Near the end of the meeting Sean Reyes came. He was able to also help answer questions.

If I had based success of the evening on a large turnout, we had a couple of dozen come. All that came are very active in politics. We had attendees from Salt Lake, Utah and Weber Counties. Many were members of the SCC, along with county party chairs, region chairs, senate chairs, legislative district chairs, precinct chairs, bylaw committee members, county and state delegates. We also had some spouses of those individuals.

Also attending was Utah State Karen Mayne, who represents much of the area. As a Democratic Party member, she wouldn't be able to vote on the 14th, but could give me feedback as to who to vote for. At the end of the meeting she was given time to ask a question. She wished them all success and simply asked all of them to make sure they had enough investigators in the AG's office. As someone that had passed several business related bills in the legislature, she could see that the AG's office didn't have enough investigators to research cases to enforce some of those laws, including businesses paying people under the table to avoid immigration and workers compensation laws.

Who didn't come? The "typical" average voter, with temperatures less than 15 degrees F outside.  I doubt that there was anyone there at that meeting that didn't attend their neighborhood caucus election last year. While there were several that would not be able to vote on the 14th, these were people that were or had been county or state delegates, or other officers. These are people not afraid to spend the time to personally vet candidates.

Other than answers to specific questions, I learned that each of those answering the questions would all make a fine Attorney General. If the public was worried that we would not have a good replacement, if one of these attorneys is selected, concern should be erased. While they have huge differences in background and experience, they agreed on the answers to each question, whether it was from no-knock warrants to if the new AG should file to run in 2014. They were on the same page regarding balancing enforcement and protecting the innocent, and the importance of defending the US and Utah's Constitution, including are Bill of Rights. Each would bring their own strong but different abilities to that office.

I will not be able to vote to nominate 5 or 6, only 3. I hope to be able to listen to the other candidates next week on the 11th and 13th, and look forward to their speeches on the 14th. Limiting the Governor's choice to 3 will be tough.

I believe these candidates can be AG, and should also file to run in 2014, without over politicizing the office and still being able to restore the trust needed for it to succeed. They believe if they do a good job prior to the elections, they would be elected. They said didn't have to focus all their efforts on fundraising and campaigning, especially with our current neighborhood caucus elections, convention and primary system. At least one candidate not there at the meeting has said they would only be appointed if they didn't file to run in 2014. With these fine candidates, and with our current election system, I believe that would be a mistake. We want someone to be AG that is willing to face the voters next fall.

[Note: The approx. 180 SCC members are elected by county delegates, with a few exceptions, such as party chair, elected by state delegates. There are 4,000 of the state GOP delegates, but around 10,000 GOP county delegates. These delegates are elected at Neighborhood Caucus Elections. In 2012, over 110,000 came and voted for these delegates to represent them in vetting candidates and electing party officers.]

For more information, see: