Reports of GOP caucus chaos make waves on Utah’s Super Tuesday

Mar 5, 2024, 9:17 PM | Updated: Mar 6, 2024, 1:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Reports of caucus chaos sprang up from locations along the Wasatch Front as Utah joined in Super Tuesday, a landmark political day across the U.S. in the 2024 presidential election.

Some locations reported things ran smoothly, but from others, people said they faced long lines and problematic registration, while others said they went home. Tuesday’s Republican Party caucus at Brighton High School was one location where complaints of lines and chaotic processes surfaced.

State Republican Party Chair Rob Axson was at the school at the height of confusion and stood up to try to explain the process and was heckled by a few people. He spent time trying to answer questions one by one. When asked why people were so upset, he attributed it to several factors.

“I think it’s more just people forget what their role is here, right? They forget what they’re supposed to do, they’re confused on where they’re supposed to go, so we’re trying to facilitate that,” Axson said. “In a lot of the locations we had more volunteers. There was a couple of volunteers who did not arrive today, so it creates a little bit of a choke point that we’re dealing with here at this location.”

But it wasn’t just Brighton High. Locations from the northern tip of the state in Box Elder County to the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley reported issues.

Steven Sokol at Fort Herriman Middle School said slow computers created long lines and many seemed surprised by the suggestion they should have pre-registered.

“The website seemed like it was down,” Sokol said. “It eventually worked for some people but I think a lot of people never got in. It’s good that so many people came. I’m not sure they’re prepared for it. They’re certainly not prepared with parking and websites and stuff.”

At Brighton, Leslie Kovach said she registered ahead and had all the information.

“And now we’re here in the chaos,” she said.

Some voters complained about the inability to vote by mail in this election. When asked by KSL TV if the caucus process is too confusing, Axson said no.

“I don’t think so because I believe that the American public and the Utah citizenry here in our state are smart enough to get involved,” he said. “We appreciate the patience, and I can appreciate too being confused on a moment. We’ll try to get those questions answered. But ultimately the engagement that you can get in the precinct level is incredibly valuable. It’s worthwhile, so I think the effort is worth it.”

KSL heard multiple reports of people leaving the caucus location at Brighton High after getting frustrated they were not able to get registered in a timely manner. The caucus was supposed to begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday, but nearly 30 minutes later, a large crowd was still waiting in the registration area.

Video from Elk Ridge Middle School in South Jordan showed two long lines snaking from the building’s front doors.

Super Tuesday is when voters decide primaries and caucuses in 16 states and American Samoa. According to the Associated Press, more than 70% of the delegates needed to mathematically clinch either the Democratic or Republican presidential nomination were decided based on Tuesday’s contests. The vast majority of delegates went to Trump and Biden.

The AP called Utah’s caucuses for Trump at 1:39 a.m. Wednesday. It was the last Super Tuesday race to be called, with results from California and Alaska coming in before Utah’s.

AP: Joe Biden wins the Democratic presidential primary in Utah

Early reports show less than 10% of the state’s active Republican voters turned out for Tuesday’s caucuses, with 85% of precincts reporting.

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Reports of GOP caucus chaos make waves on Utah’s Super Tuesday