Taxpayer Money for Open Primaries

In 2017, the Utah County and Wasatch County clerks admitted that their offices had made big mistakes.  Their offices had sent GOP primary ballots to tens of thousands of unaffiliated voters who weren’t supposed to receive them.  An election was being held but these voters were not allowed to participate. 

That is the byproduct of the Republican Party closing its primary to most voters in Utah.  This mistake underscores the reality that Utah elections have created the disenfranchised voter.

Who is this disenfranchised voter?  It is the person who is legally qualified to vote – meeting age and residency requirements – but is not allowed to participate in the primary election unless his or her party is holding a contested race.  The disenfranchised voter also includes the unaffiliated voter who has chosen not to affiliate with any party.  Those voters are punished by our own state government for their lack of affiliation with the Republican Party.  Yet, they still must pay for that election with their taxpayer money.

Republican state and county officials have an easy solution for this dilemma – register as a Republican. 

But what about the voters who do not want to register as Republicans?  Yet, they still want to have a say in who becomes their representative.  Must they “sell their souls” to participate in an election that has a major influence on who becomes their representative? Should Utah citizens have to do that to vote? 

This “mistake” by the county clerks demonstrates keenly the fact that most Utah voters are paying for an election they themselves cannot participate in.  Only a minority of Utah voters register as Republicans.  Yet, all Utah taxpayers pay for the Republican primary to take place.  Should the state be running an election that most registered voters in the state cannot participate in? 

One solution is to give an ultimatum to the Republican Party– Open your primaries or pay for them yourselves.  If you are excluding voters, then you should not be charging those same voters to pay for your primary.    On the other hand, if everyone is allowed to participate – regardless of party affiliation or no affiliation – then the state should run the election.

If the United Utah Party was in charge, that’s how primary elections would be run.  We favor open primary elections where any voter can participate, regardless of who they affiliate with or whether they affiliate at all.  Our party constitution mandates open primaries for our party, not closed ones like the Republicans do.  

Our candidates as legislators will end taxpayer money for closed primary elections.   Everyone must be invited to a primary election if all taxpayers pay for it.  Otherwise, a party can hold a primary election, but they must fund it themselves if they want it to be exclusive.  It is only fair that a voter should not be excluded from an election she is paying for.