Plans for Caucus Night As Social Distancing Measures Continue
Next week Utah’s Democratic and Republican parties were slated to hold their caucuses to select delegates for the state’s nominating convention later this month.
However, size restrictions for public gatherings have left party officials scrambling to revise the traditional caucus process to meet guidelines for coronavirus containment.
“We probably will actually cancel our caucus night that was originally scheduled for the 24th and then allow individuals who were delegates that were selected as delegates in 2018 continue to be delegates in 2020 and 2021,” said Jeff Merchant, the Utah Democratic Party Chair.
He said there will also be an online application for new delegates. The Utah Republican Party is also canceling caucus night and extending the appointment of the delegates from 2018. Both parties are also revising their convention plans.
An online format for candidate vetting and selection is the plan to replace the traditional Republican State Nominating Convention, which will also feature a “virtual convention”. The Democratic Party is planning a decentralized drop off ballot process, with multiple locations across the state where delegates can drive and drop their ballots locally.
How might this impact the election process that allows candidates to qualify for the ballot either through a signature collection process or by acquiring delegates?
“For those that are starting to collect signatures now, you're absolutely right, it's going to be particularly difficult to them,” said Merchant.
When it comes to how the adapted convention formats could impact voter turnout, Merchant is hopeful the results will be positive.
“If we can keep multiple balloting stations open and throughout the state, then it may actually increase the number of participants that we have,” Merchant said. “Instead of having to drive say, from St. George to you know, Ogden, instead they’re dropping off their ballot and just going home.”