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.