“Count My Vote” vs. First Amendment

In a nutshell the Utah Count My Vote initiative pursues the idea that candidates for public office should be allowed to be on the ballot without going through the caucus and convention vetting process.  The argument raised by Count My Vote advocates is that anyone should be allowed to “claim” party alliance without being vetted.

That’s it!  That is really what it all comes down to when the rhetoric is stripped away.  When the media sources and big spenders in favor of social stratification tell a different story and promote it all through side issues just remember the base idea does not change.

The big-money candidates behind this effort do not want to be accountable in a caucus/convention system.  Their preference is to be able to “paid-ad” themselves into the partisanship that wins.  As shall be shown later  Utah is one of only a few states that such a failed system would work in.  Let’s examine practical reasons why Count My Vote would be wrong.

Alternatively the First Amendment to the US Constitution suggests otherwise:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This post will not address the first couple of items listed; religion and press.

Suffice it to say that the Amendment prohibits Congress from making laws in certain categories. Included are the right of people to peaceably assemble, and, correspondingly express grievances regarding public policy.  There are no provisions where Congress is granted power “just in case” an incumbent or special interest demands it.  There is no provision for congress to say  “Hey, we get to modify a citizen’s rights in this matter.”

Elected special interests may want that little proviso to exist…but it does not.  Hence, they have an obligation to comply.  Under Article VI, paragraph two of the Constitution, states have the same requirement.

Political parties very naturally fall under the description of “assembly.”  The freedom of speech by a political party may not be abridged, as per the constitution cited above.  Lastly, a party’s platform is a documented expression of both grievances.

Just to clarify, a grievance may be an expression of desired policy.  It does not essentially need to be a complaint about an injustice.  A desire for change, when done through peaceable assembly, is in fact an expression of grievance…done in a positive manner.

Therefore an assembly of the people (a political party) has a right and duty to express desires for policy improvement. 

The right of government to say that a political party may only operate under certain external rules, unrelated to PEACEABLE assembly, is an abrogation of constitutional and the legal merits of government. Political parties should be at complete leisure to select candidates at their discretion.

The efforts of the Count My Vote initiative were ill-founded because they attempted to impose government abridgements onto a peaceable assembly of political parties.  A6p2 of the US Constitution should have prevailed IF the initiative were successful.  The compromise of SB54 is clearly a violation of the Constitution.  Thus the Republican Party’s lawsuit (supported by third parties in Utah) is a legitimate claim.  It would have been better if the legislature avoided their knee-jerk reaction to the fear-mongering of the Count My Vote team, but they did not.  Therefore the lawsuit should be pursued and hopefully the state courts will see the fallacy of SB54.

Now, on another hand of this whole issue, as stated above the real intent of the Count My Vote effort is to allow candidates outside of the partisan process to have ballot access.

In most states ( excluding such places as Massachusetts and maybe Idaho) a process similar to Count My Vote would be nearly nonsensical.  It has special interest appeal in Utah because the state is so heavily Republican influenced.

It is nearly common knowledge that most voters cast their ballots along party lines.  Nearly everyone denies that, but the historical numbers bear that out to be unequivocally factual.  People vote partisan!  The relevance of that fact is how it relates to Count My Vote.

The vast majority of Utahans self-identify as Republican.  State and federal elections bear that out.  Thus, a candidate wanting to get elected in Utah has a more than significant chance of victory if they identify with the Republican Party.

Count My Vote is simply an effort to have the state misuse it power to control political parties.  The effort pushes to allow candidates an avenue to avoid a party vetting process so they can claim partisan alliance, while being statistically contrary to the party’s views.

It is dangerous course to have party policy mandated through state imposition.  Further, it is unconstitutional.  The entire Utah election code needs to be revamped and significantly shortened.  Political parties ought not be beholden to candidates and elected officials.  On the contrary… elected officials should be proving themselves to be good leaders.

That Is The Way I See It.

Disclosure

I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat.  Thus I am not a delegate for either party.

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One thought on ““Count My Vote” vs. First Amendment

  1. Question Bill: If the only purpose that the caucus convention system serves is to vet candidates before they go on the primary ballot, why are so many delegates intent on giving their candidate a knock out win so that there is no primary? If the role of delegates was to vet candidates for the primary, why limit the number of candidates who advance to a primary to two? If three really fantastic Republcian or Democratic candidates file for a race, why should voters in the primary, if there is a primary at all, be limited to just two choices. That smacks of Utah’s school board elections which were deemed to be unconstitutional.

    Please, let’s be honest and admit that the purpose of the caucus/convention system is to keep candidates OFF of the primary ballot or to prevent a primary all together. That sounds like a terrible way to run a country, a state, a city. It just really does.

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