Count My Vote is an initiative trying to get on the ballot here in Utah. We heard from Taylor Morgan, the Executive Director of the Count My Vote Organization in support of, and from Iron County Commissioner David Miller in opposition of the initiative on the program. While the basics were discussed, there are several issues we were unable to cover. These issues should also be taken into consideration. I have outlined them below. If you want a more detailed analysis, please head on over to my blog at www.chadbooth.com. As important as it is, I would ask you to share this with your friends and please join the conversation with your comments.
Thoughts to consider:
- First it is important to think about how the current system is at developing good candidates. We have a very popular governor, a very fiscally aware and prudent legislature and are broadly recognized as one of the best managed, if not the best managed states in the country. As I have traveled the state I also can attest to the fact that almost all of our county commissioners are dedicated servants with high integrity.
- Count My Vote (CMV) will bring more candidates to the electorate. CMV will allow all candidates seeking office for a particular post to be on the ballot for the general population, if they can gather enough petition signatures. That could mean a ballot with well over one hundred names in counties along the Wasatch front and could easily push rural county ballots upwards of 40 to 50 names. It offers a great deal of selection to voters, but it could overload voters who are not informed and could eventually lead to smaller turnout. In addition to making the selection of candidates cumbersome, it will also make waiting lines to vote much longer and further alienate primary voters.
- CMV will cost more. The county clerks will now have to verify names on petitions for candidates in both parties. Each office seeker will have to get 2% of the voters in his or her district to be put on the ballot. County Clerks will have to verify all of them. The costs for candidates will also go up as well, for any candidate running for office will have to obtain the 2% of his electorate in signatures, for state wide office seekers, they will have to hire that work done. It will surely eliminate modest candidates from the race.
- Count my vote will involve more voters. CMV will most certainly provide a more participatory encounter for voters and direct voter participation will rise, by best estimates it will double. However the risk is with 6 to 12 candidates on the ballot, the candidate that advances to the general election could get their on little over 8 percent of the vote. It is an irony that as more vote, a candidate can win on a smaller number.
- Fewer people will be excluded under count my vote. CMV will provide an opportunity for people who cannot traditionally participate in caucuses to have their say via the primary elections. In particular to the debate are missionaries and military members serving overseas will be able to vote. The argument against it is that their numbers will be so small that there will be no advertising outreach to them. So if that group does vote, they most likely will be making an uniformed decision.
- CMV will change the flow of candidate information. Currently, the caucus system selects delegates who by their charge are supposed to query candidates on behalf of their precinct. The delegates then are supposed to canvas their neighbors and determine how the delegates should vote. In reality, it seldom works that way and delegates, after elected often show up at the convention, learn what they can and cast their votes. Their precinct is not represented. People back in the neighborhood hence feel alienated. But even at that it does require candidates to reach out to delegates, hence precincts and districts to engage the people’s lobbyists, their selected delegates. The flow of information is two-way. CMV will change that flow as candidates will talk to their backers and move directly on to campaigning. To put it short, while voters feel alienated from the selection process, at least it is two-way, CMV will make the issues of campaigns fit and flow from the candidates.
From my perspective the real issue is voter engagement, and I have some further thoughts on how to change that paradigm. Neither status quo, nor Count My Vote will even come close to fulfilling the most fundamental foundation of our republic.