SALT LAKE CITY -- Should Sen. Curt Bramble's, R-Provo, legislation that seeks to alter Utah's election process pass, it may face the veto stamp of Gov. Gary Herbert.
Herbert said on Wednesday that a veto of the legislation, S.B. 54, may be possible as he is concerned with the public backlash that may come if Utah's lawmakers appear to be attempting to circumvent a citizen initiative process.
"It certainly would be something that would be on the table," Herbert said when asked about a veto at his monthly KUED news conference. "That certainly is a possibility ... I have to look at the bill and see what actually comes out but I think we need to be very sensitive to the people's voice."
Herbert said he was concerned with the appearance that Bramble's bill may have in that it may look like an attempt by the Legislature to anticipate the Count My Vote initiative and then game the system to thwart the will of the people. He warned state lawmakers that they should tread lightly on this topic while the initiative continues to gather signatures.
"My counsel to the legislature is to be careful and cautious when it comes to this issue because it could backfire in many ways on the Legislature," Herbert said. "If we don't do that, I think the people will be very upset with all of us."
When asked about Herbert's statement on a potential veto of the bill, Bramble said that a veto is part of the process. He also said it was early on in the game for his bill and that there will be plenty of time for him to discuss the merit of his bill if and when it is sent to Herbert for his signature.
"We are at the front end of the process. It has had two votes," Bramble said. "Should it survive in whatever form it comes out, then we will have ample time to have discussions with the governor about the next step."
Bramble said what is being left out of the conversation right now is that Count My Vote is attempting to increase voter participation. He argued to reporters that his bill will also increase voter participation be it through a direct primary - which Count My Vote is hoping to move Utah to - or through the changes political parties would have to make under his bill to preserve the caucus and convention system.
Bramble's bill will be up for debate Thursday morning in the Senate. His legislation contains the direct wording Count My Vote is attempting to put into state law but also has a provision included that allows political parties to avoid having direct primaries if they follow a list of changes the parties would need to make to preserve the caucus and convention process.
That list includes moving the threshold a candidate needs to earn at convention to avoid facing a primary election from 60 percent to 65 percent, allowing unaffiliated voters to vote in their primary election, allow for absentee balloting at neighborhood caucus nights and create a two-day nominating window for delegates voted on at the neighborhood caucus.
Daily Herald reporter Billy Hesterman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 344-2559 or on Twitter @billyhesterman.
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