Utah eliminates caucus system

(From L) Moderator Dietrich Geisler and debators Tyler Young and Satin Tashnizi particiapte in the Count My Vote initiative at the Marriott Plaza. Colby Patterson
From left to right: moderator Dietrich Geisler and debators Tyler Young and Satin Tashni. Photo by Chris Samuels.

From left to right: moderator Dietrich Geisler and debators Tyler Young and Satin Tashni. Photo by Chris Samuels.

Tyler Young, the chair of Demand Democracy, believes that reaching government officials could be a step in the right direction when it comes to Utah’s current voting system — and he wants U students to know it.

A debate concerning “Count My Vote,” a ballot to change the way citizens elect government officials, was held in the Library Plaza Thursday evening.

The debate was organized by Demand Democracy, a new club on campus which brings students together who are interested in politics.

Utah is the only state to be using the caucus system for voting.

This method makes it more difficult for certain parties to make it on to the ballot. “Count My Vote,” which sought to change that method, recently met a compromise in the state legislature.

With the compromise, the caucus system is still in place and candidates can get on to the ballot if they get a certain amount of signatures, depending on what office they are running for. Those running for the U.S. Senate must gain 28,000 signatures, state senate is 2,000 signatures, and lesser offices require 1,000 signatures.

Young, a freshman in environmental biology, argued against Satin Tashnizi, a freshman in political science.

The two argued over whether the new voting system is positive and a good method.

Tashnizi argued that although it is a step in the right direction, having the caucus system at all is not sufficient.

Young feels that the compromise can give young people a voice.

“It’s not the vote giving you a voice, it’s talking to the people who run the system,” Young said, “We’re encouraging a change in the electoral system.”

Young said those who attend caucus meetings are well-informed on political issues and candidates, and this is why the caucus system remaining in the compromise works.

Tashnizi said without a complete elimination of the caucus system, Utah’s voting will remain proportionally unfair.

“These aren’t people who wake up and breathe politics … like us,” she said.

Steven Lizzarago, a freshman in urban ecology, attended the event in order to support friends involved. He proposed moving to Canada as a solution to the voting problems.

Young suggested getting directly involved with the federal government to make an amendment regarding this issue.

Hayden Wright, a junior in psychology, attended the event because he is involved in Demand Democracy.

“I’m really passionate about money in politics,” Wright said. “It literally affects everyone in the country.”

Seven people attended the event.

Young hopes to advertise better for the club’s next event, which will take place in two weeks.

e.trepanier@chronicle.utah.edu