Utah Democratic Party votes to keep caucus intact

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SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s Democratic Party considered turning Utah’s political system on its head Saturday, but after a vote it was determined the caucus system is here to stay.

Members of the party debated moving away from a caucus system and into a more traditional primary election when it comes to choosing the party’s nominations for political office.

In a caucus system voters elect delegates at a caucus meeting, and those delegates then go on to choose the party’s nominees at a state convention. Moving to a primary would mean eliminating this step.

Proponents of a caucus system said it allows new candidates a better chance against incumbents because it is cheaper to campaign to a small group of delegates rather than an entire state full of voters.

Sim Gill, Salt Lake County District Attorney, said caucuses can help candidates who might not have a chance otherwise.

“That’s not something I thought would be accessible to me if I thought I had to go out and raise $100,000 before I even start the conversation,” he said.

Opponents of the caucus system expressed concern that a small number of people were making decisions on behalf of many. Democratic delegate Bob Aagard said, “Should any money raised, be it $10 or $400,000, be better spent trying to win votes of more Utahns versus the people in this room.”

Attendees voted to keep the caucus system in place. The Republican Party debated the same issue at their organizing convention last month, and they also decided to retain the caucus system for their party’s elections.

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