Utah GOP, Dems plan online Presidential Primary in 2016

Posted at 10:53 PM, Mar 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-25 00:53:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's two major parties are poised to try something that could set an example for the rest of the country.

One of them chose to do it, the other would rather focus on other things.

Utah Democrats wanted Utah Legislators to pay $3 million to hold a statewide presidential primary during the 2016 election. Utah's June primary for other races is too late for ballots to count in a party nomination.

State legislators considered a bill, sponsored by Rep. Jon Cox of Sanpete County, to fund a primary, but they decided against it after learning the Utah Republican Party would not participate.

"We want to be able to demonstrate we can have a much higher turnout than the tired old way of conducting a primary," said Utah GOP Chair James Evans.

Instead of a traditional primary, the GOP plans to include presidential voting in their neighborhood caucuses, and then allow Republicans who don't attend the caucus to cast their ballots online.

The GOP has budgeted $100,000 for the effort.

Utah Democrats say organizing and funding an election is too much of a burden.

"We should be spending money, raising money to win elections, not run them," said Utah Democratic Party Executive Director Lauren Littlefield.

That said, Democrats plan to innovate as well, saying they're taking bids from companies that have conducted online voting in Canada and Australia, where the practice is common. ​