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Caucus chaos: Utah GOP election leads to confusion, delayed results

The Utah GOP spent tens of thousands of dollars to hold a caucus instead of a primary, but flaws in the process left many voters with questions.
Caucus chaos: Utah GOP election leads to confusion, delayed results
Posted at 10:36 AM, Mar 06, 2024

The Utah Republican Party chose to hold a caucus for the Super Tuesday primary instead of an ordinary election. Voters had to go to neighborhood caucus meetings, and in some instances, there was chaos and confusion.

At one location, the meeting was supposed to start at 7 p.m. But the phone registration process to get the ballot became a fiasco — so much so that members of the party were yelling back at the chairman.

There was also nothing distinguishing the volunteers from normal voters — not even a lanyard or neon vest.

"When you’re 59 and you didn’t grow up with this stuff, this technology, and you’re not ready for it — and I would say most of these people are over the age of 60 and some of them don’t have phones," said Utah voter Lynn Parker. "Nobody’s here to tell them how to do it. There’s a young lady who was sitting here who out of the goodness of her heart came over and said, ‘Try this different website,’ So I did, and I’m still getting kicked out. So I’m probably going to have to go home."

SEE MORE: State-by-state Super Tuesday results

The GOP spent $100,000 on advertising for the caucus and $60,000 on the preregistration system. Despite blunders, the party's chairman was still optimistic about the turnout.

"I believe that the American public and the Utah citizenry here in our state are smart enough to get involved," Chairman Robert Axson said. "We appreciate the patience and I can appreciate, too, being confused on a moment, but we’ll try to get those questions answered. But ultimately the engagement you can get at the precinct level is incredibly valuable; it’s worthwhile." 

SEE MORE: Nikki Haley suspends Republican presidential campaign

The Utah GOP said they went with the caucus route to promote community engagement and save taxpayers money from administering an election. But as late as 10:30 p.m., two and a half hours after polls closed, there were no tabulated results yet available from the caucus.

Meanwhile, Democrats had a traditional primary election. Polls opened at 7 a.m., and every registered Democrat received a ballot in the mail to vote for their preferred candidate for president of the United States.

Incumbent President Joe Biden won all 34 of Utah's Democratic delegates, with a landslide victory of 88% so far in the count. The race was called by Decision Desk HQ within just minutes of the polls closing.

This story was originally published by Emily Tencer at Scripps News Salt Lake City.


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