Why Change Utah's Election System?


Mike Erlacher, Utah military voter, describes how the caucus system excludes him from participating in choosing candidates for public office.

Amanda, mother of young children, explains how Utah's caucus system is unfair and exclusionary.

Utah's caucus system hinders participation

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  • The structure of a state's election system can either hinder or encourage voter participation. 
  • Utah's historically high rate of voter participation has declined in recent decades.
  • From 1960 to 1998, Utah's turnout was always above the national average. Since 1998, Utah's turnout has been near or below the national average.
  • In 1960, over 78% of Utah voters went to the polls. In 2012, only 51% of Utah's voting age population cast a ballot, ranking Utah 39th nationally in voter turnout.

Utah's caucus system is the most restrictive system in the nation

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  • Utah is one of only a few states that still use a convention.
  • Of the states that still use a convention, Utah has the highest barrier for candidates - 40% of party delegates' votes (Colorado - 30%, Connecticut - 15%, New Mexico 20%, North Dakota - endorsement only).
  • Utah is the only state in which a political party is allowed to preclude a primary election for statewide or Congressional offices.

Utah's caucus system is exclusionary and unfair

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  • Party delegates are elected at party caucus meetings held once every 2 years.
  • Attending this single meeting in person is the only way voters can choose a delegate.
  • Utahns who are out of town, sick, have to work, cannot leave children, or are serving in the military are excluded.
  • Groups such as women and younger voters are marginalized and disenfranchised.

Utah's caucus system is least accountable to Utah voters

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  • Utah's elected leaders are more concerned with making policies supported by party delegates than policies supported by Utah voters. 
  • Party delegates and activists have different priorities than voters and do not represent the views of average Utahns.
  • Utah's system gives the most power and influence to those with the most extreme views.