A semi-closed primary system only semi-works
How it works
So how does Utah’s election system work, anyway? Utah has a closed and semi-closed primary system. That means:
This system leaves out too many voters. Many Utahns feel they have to be strategic with their registration to have their vote count. Over 80% of general election winners are chosen in the Republican Primary. This means that those who are affiliated D, independent, other parties, or not registered with a political party (unaffiliated) are excluded from voting in the process where our elected representatives are chosen. In Utah, 50% of registered voters are unaffiliated or registered with a party other than the Republican party. That 50% are not allowed to participate in the election that chooses the winners in almost every case.
The potential impacts of Utah’s closed and semi-closed party system on our representative democracy include:
1) Limiting voter participation and choice
A closed primary system limits voter choice and participation. Many would prefer to not affiliate with a party but this excludes them from the primary process. This lowers turnout in the primary election, where winning candidates are chosen.
2) Promoting more extreme candidates
Partisan primaries promote more extreme candidates. Because the primary is often dominated by the party base, candidates feel pressure to appeal to the more extreme elements of their party to win the nomination. Candidates whose positions consider the whole of Utah may not make it through the primary, which limits voters’ choices in the general election. This leads to the common sentiment “Couldn’t we do better than this?” Due to this pull to the extremes, we have heard from many that even though they have been lifelong Republicans or Democrats, they don’t recognize their party anymore and are currently feeling “homeless.”
3) Policies passed not matching Utahn’s positions
When comparing polling done to measure Utahns’ feelings on issues to the policies that are passed in Utah, we see that many of the policies being passed are not in line with what the majority of Utahns care most about. Policies out of alignment with the people is a concern of the current system.
There is HOPE!
We believe that EACH VOICE MATTERS!
Our programs offer you the opportunity to increase your confidence in using your voice to influence change.
We believe EACH VOTE MATTERS!
We are committed to strengthening your voice, but if the system excludes your votes, your strength won’t make a big enough difference. This is why, in addition to our programs focused on individuals, we also advocate for all voters being invited to participate in choosing their elected leaders—the foundational ingredient of a representative democracy. This requires an Open Primary, which would mean all candidates and all voters go to one ballot, regardless of party affiliation.
By promoting collaboration and compromise, open primaries create a more inclusive political environment that serves the interests of a diverse range of people, “for their equal protection and benefit.” (Utah Constitution, article 1).
People4Utah exists to amplify your voice. We have heard a clear call for changes to our current system that would invite all to exercise their right to vote in all elections. Join us and let us help you amplify your voice, increase your rights as a voter, and improve the effectiveness of our political process.