LOCAL NEWS

Utah Republicans caucus for president, leading to discontent among some voters

Mar 5, 2024, 5:06 PM | Updated: 5:44 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah voters are gathering Tuesday with a dozen other states to cast their Super Tuesday votes for president.

For Republicans, this year’s vote for president is happening in a presidential preference poll at caucus nights across the state.

A caucus is a neighborhood gathering where people will be discussing issues and voting for people who go on to represent them in other party votes at the state and national conventions, known as delegates.

A primary, however, is run by local county clerks and ballots are mailed out to voters who return them or vote in person. A primary also has the oversight of the state while the party controls the organizing, execution, and security of a caucus.

The states Republican party chose to hold their vote for President with a caucus because they say it promotes community engagement, saves taxpayers money from administering an election, and provides valuable incentives to presidential candidates who may not see Utah as relevant in the national race.

But not everybody is happy about the change.

“The Republican party with the caucus system is disenfranchising every Republican voter who is disabled or elderly. That’s how I feel about them, they are betraying us,” said Coleen Jones, an elderly voter in Holladay.

Jones touted her love of country, serving as a young journalist to help 18 year-olds gain the right to vote who were going to Vietnam. “I have never missed voting in any election,” she said. But what she doesn’t love is how hard she believes voting is this year for Republicans, specifically for the elderly and disabled.

“[Showing up to caucus] is hard on you when you have hearing disabilities. You get run over by people. You have stand in long lines with bad knees,” she said. ”I don’t know who thought this up, but they have never been old,” she said.

The party does have a process for absentee voting, but Jones argues it’s cumbersome. The process requires printing a ballot, photocopying identification, and turning it into your precinct. If you can’t turn it in, the party allows you to send it with someone.

Jones said finding someone to do that was hard because the party only allows one person to bring up to 3 ballots.

“We had to call a bunch of people and we didn’t find anybody who can take it,” she said.

Despite what she views as hardships, Jones stressed the importance of voting, especially when it comes to choosing between the frontrunners in the Republican candidates for President this year – Nikki Haley and Donald Trump.

“Someday, God willing, you will be old and you’ll understand how difficult even to walk out to the mailbox is. People need to remember that. And all you want to do is show up and cast your vote,” Jones said.

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Utah Republicans caucus for president, leading to discontent among some voters