2015 Bills

SB43: Closed Primaries, Attacking the “Count My Vote” Compromise

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Libertas Institute supports this bill.

The the controversial “Count My Vote” initiative sought to reform the process by which candidates are nominated in Utah, removing power from party delegates in favor of open primaries and more widespread participation. During the legislative session, a bargain was struck between the initiative supporters and legislators, resulting in new, complex laws that change political party operations.

A pending lawsuit seeks judicial intervention to clarify whether the state may tell a private organization how to select its nominees for public office. Muddying the waters even further is Senate Bill 43, sponsored by Senator Scott Jenkins, which seeks to reverse a major “win” for the Count My Vote supporters by removing the requirement that a “qualified political party” must “permit voters who are unaffiliated with any political party to vote for the registered political party’s candidates in a primary election.”

In other words, SB43 would restore the freedom of association (and thus disassociation) to political parties in Utah by not requiring them to allow any voter—including those not affiliated with the party—to be able to determine the party’s nominees. While we object to political parties receiving taxpayer subsidies for their primary elections, and would support legislation that would remove this funding, we do not believe it provides the state legitimate authority to dictate the inner workings of these parties. As such, we support SB43 on grounds that it would repeal a provision of law that violates the freedom of association.