Thursday, May 27, 2010

Open Primaries, Play by Play

Unrivaled in popularity perhaps only by curling is the issue of open primaries. I had a letter published in the Davis County Clipper today clarifying the finer points of unaffiliated voter registration and voting in Utah Primary elections. As luck would have it, the letter appeared in print next to the bi-monthly left/right column Her Point / His Point by Dawn Brandvold and Blaine Nichols. The column is aptly named "Political parties should stop playing games and just cooperate"

You can read the links for yourself, and I encourage you to do so, but if you have perservered this far and just want the highlights so you will have enough time for the curling highlights, here is the play by play action summary for you.

The page opens up with Davis County independent Randy Miller thumping for a non-partisan option to be added to Utah primary elections allowing the non-partisan Utah majority to advance worthy candidates regardless of party. The ball rims in and out with just under 12 to go here in the 2nd quarter.

Brandvold clears the rebound and speculates that maybe this is the year that independents will support Sam Granato over the yet to be determined tossup between Republicans Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater. Maybe, but from where I'm sitting I see a lot of independent voters headed for the concession stands on this one.

Nichols inbounds to himself and crosses the half court line. Nichols holds up, yo-yo's left and heads for the extreme right. 19 on the shot clock, Nichols pulls up and shoots for 3. Airball, and that is the Morgan Jeweler's play of the game. When asked, Nichols says "Until recently Republicans held “open primaries”, encouraging everyone to show up and vote. It became apparent that those primaries were being infiltrated by Democrats fruitlessly trying to swing elections to the more liberal candidate. One day, Republicans woke up, slapped their collective forehead and said, “Hey, Why don’t we close our primaries so Democrats can’t play games?”

I guess now that 'their' primaries are closed they are encouraging everyone to not show up and vote? We'll have to go to overtime on that one.

(What Mr. Nichols doesn't know is that we have secretly switched the voter registration of thousands of Utah Voters, and less than 9% of all voters in Utah are registered as 'Democrats', so the extent of their 'game playing' is really quite limited.)

The buzzer sounds and that's it folks. You declare the winner and let me know please. Hopefully in the end it is the people of Utah that win. I mean, for Pete's sake, I'm tired of losing to the dog gone Washington Generals.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A time for thanks

Andrea and I hosted a barbecue Saturday for friends of the Utah League of independent Voters. We wish to extend a special thanks to our call in guest Dr. Omar Ali of Towson University in Maryland who visited with us about open primaries equating the practice of closed primary elections to a broader application of Jim Crow practices upon a larger group--the large bloc of independent voters outside of the 2 party establishment.

Special thanks also to our other candidate class guests:
Dave Glissmeyer (independent for Utah's 2nd Congressional District), Joe Puente (independent for Utah's 3rd Congressional District), Jared Stratton (Libertarian for Utah's 1st Congressional District), Morgan Bowen (Democrat for Utah's 1st Congressional District & Ross Perot supporter back in the day), Burke Larsen, independent voter and Davis School Board candidate for precinct 6.

Blogger Nancy Hanks was also a distant guest who live blogged about our event: The Hankster

Dr. Ali commented on a video which appears on regarding open primaries. Here it is, enjoy.

about the author:
Randy Miller is the founder and President of the Utah League of independent Voters. He lives in Syracuse Utah and is an independent candidate for Davis County Surveyor in 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Crisis of Democracy? Voter Turnout in the Pennsylvania and Kentucky Primary Elections the non-vote a vote of no confidence in the two-party state and duopoly system of government? Less than a third of all voters participated in the Kentucky and Pennsylvania primary elections. Democratic and Republican US Senate candidates are capable of scoring "major upsets" with the support of just 7% of registered voters. Of course, the apologists of the ruling parties explain such facts away by alternately, and contradictorily, asserting the existence of voter apathy or voter contentment. But is this not a crisis of democracy? read more

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

But Wait There's More

Before I can even get the html unfolded and a post up discussing Carl Wimmer's foiled "opperation chaos" diabolical plot, the conservative loyal underground is right back at it. Evidently undeterred by the appearance of deliberate crossover election manipulation, some behind-the-curtain figure has brought to life a website encouraging Utah 2nd Congressional District Republican voters to infiltrate the Democratic Primary race between Claudia Wright and incumbent Jim Matheson on June 22nd; Interesting it is not independents advocating for this.
The Salt Lake Tribune story on that pesky operation chaos. Yet another no acknowledgement that this is a 4 way race between the Morgan Philpot, a yet to be named Democrat, independent Dave Glissmeyer and Constitution Party Candidate Randall Hinton
Besides, you had an itch for another music video didn't you?

Big Hat, No Cattle

Time for open primaries (still)

Last week, another glaring reason to adopt fully open primaries emerged and immediate steps were taken by the Utah GOP to distance themselves from the appearance of anything-to-win subversion. I'm talking about Utah Representative Carl Wimmer's admonition for the state Republican party faithful to infiltrate the Democratic primary election to advance who he views as a weaker and too-liberal-to-beat-Morgan-Philpot candidate Claudia Wright.

    Says Wimmer"OK, Time for opperation chaos Utah style. Utah Democrats have an open primary election, so EVERY Republican in the Utah 2nd Congressional District needs to go and vote for Claudia Wright against Matheson. She is very liberal, and would give Morgan Philpot an almost certain victory in that district."

At the heart of this hypocrisy is our election code which allows political parties the discretion to close 'their' primaries or leave them open. (I say 'their' primaries because they do not pay for these elections.) Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman has wisely advocated for open primaries as early as January 2009 and again this month.

The Salt Lake Tribune calls it both ways depending on the year according to its own editorial staff.

Illegal Immigration

The Utah GOP is all abuzz about illegal immigration when Gov. Gary Herbert considered a special legislative session to address the issue then recently backed down. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints admonishes compassionate and reasoned approaches to the matter.,5143,695253048,00.html

The Stats Don't Lie

Legitimate polls of Utah voters chronicle the disconnect between a moderate Utah populous and extremist candidates victorious in the party convention caucuses.

The Snub

Corporate media chronically excludes non D/R candidates as if these dominant party figures are the only game in town or that there are only 2 sides to the complex issues facing our state and nation.

There is no mention of an independent or Constitution Party candidate in this article? Is it an article or a paid infomercial?

Truth is, it's
Anybody's Game

And don't forget the other legislative shenanigans this year,

    1. Afraid of the voice of the people rather than responsive to it, the Utah Legislature made the initiative and referendum process more difficult with SB275

    2. Rather than enact an independent ethics review process, the Utah Legislature cobbled together in record time a state constitutional amendment in response again to the voice of the people vis a vis Utahans for Ethical Government The amendment will be difficult to modify when it proves to be more ineffective than the Federal Elections Commission by design. Hopefully the amendment is not enacted as it still must be approved by voters.

Where to From Here?

"The times they are a changin'" Bob Dylan

The traditional left versus right, or in the case of Utah, right vs. righter, is waning in popularity. It never was all that popular unless you were a policy profiteer. Everybody except the extreme right and left it seems, have grown tired of Red rover, red rover, send voter right over. Where to from here is a question only you, the involved and empowered citizen can answer. I am looking forward to your many answers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Utah 3rd District Debate Digest #2

Part 2 of the Utah 3rd Congressional District Debate

Jake Shannon

Thank you Randy for providing this forum, what a great idea! Ok, on to the issue of the "War on Drugs":

Prohibition does not work, as demonstrated by the end of the "Noble Experiment" heralded by the repeal of the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution (the ONLY Amendment to be repealed, with the passage of the 21st Amendment).

While its aims may have been wholly noble, the unintended consequence was the creation of a irresistibly profitable, violent, criminal black-market. This was evidenced by the violent exploits of Al Capone, et al. during Prohibition and now by the similarly violent acts of modern drug suppliers. "The War on Drugs" is even worse than the Prohibition of the early 20th century since it bypasses the Constitution of the United States in a campaign against its very own citizens.

Notice that you've never hear stories of drive-by shootings or homicides over legal drugs like tobacco, alcohol, or Prozac.

Notice how the Federal government raids medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized the substance in a clear violation of state's rights provided by the 10th Amendment.

Notice how hypocritical the "Land of Free" sounds when we actually have the highest rate of incarceration among industrialized nations. The greatest impetus behind this growth is the "War on Drugs." According to the Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, "The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges" ( The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and around 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.

This is unacceptable in my opinion. Law enforcement and courts are here to protect individuals from violent aggression and fraud, not dictating and punishing morality. Morality is the province of civil education and churches, not the government.

The War on Drugs is expensive, inefficient, and destroys American lives. Economists agree that an end of prohibition would benefit millions, creating extraordinary amounts of revenue (see and

I personally don't drink much and do not enjoy any other drugs, and likewise I don't support prohibition because it only serves to destroy families and waste money. As a professional hypnotherapist, I have helped many with drug dependencies (mostly tobacco cessation) and understand that the answer lies in education, patience, and kindness, not guns and jails.

Thank you.

Joseph Puente

Jake makes an excellent case for legalizing drugs but I'm curious to know what the effects of such an act might have on our society. My mind is particularly open to the legalization of marijuana for medical use so long as it can be clinicallly proven as an effective medicine. I'm not so sure about the legalization of hard drugs like cocaine, heroine or meth. I've seen what addiction to these substances can do to people. True, there are no drive-by shootings related to tobacco but does addiction to tobacco impact the lives of smokers the way the addiction to hard drugs does? Smokers don't "nod off" in a drug induced euphoria or effect ones ability to function productively. Can the same thing be said for drugs that are presently illegal? I doubt it.

I can get behind easing the penalties for minor drug offenses but legalizing hard drugs across the board is not something I feel comfortable with.

Jake Shannon

To answer your question, you need only ask what effect has the legalization of alcohol had on our society?

As my personal political hero, Rep. Ron Paul writes in his forward to Judge Andrew Napolitano's book "Lies the Government Told You":

"Of course, smoking, whether of marijuana or tobacco, does have negative health consequences-but respecting the right of the individual to be wrong, as long as they don't interfere with the rights of others, is one of the pillars of a free society"

My question to you Joe is this, since when is it the province of the state to concern itself with "ones ability to function productively"? The state does not have a legitimate claim on the fruits of our labor and the state does not own our bodies. This same principle underlies why I seek to abolish both prohibition AND the IRS.

Utah 3rd District Debate Digest Part 1

I setup a fan page on Facebook this week as a means to publicize a historic first in many ways; 1. a civilized debate 2. online between the candidates for the 3rd Congressional District in Utah. The debate to date has been primarily between Libertarian Jake Shannon and independent Joe Puente. I have not been able to contact Douglas Sligting yet. Jason Chaffetz and Karen Hyer have not been invited to participate yet.

I'm hoping this experiment will succeed in generating a very civil dialogue and bring some ideas to the light of day that otherwise would be obscured by the smoke and mirrors of traditional partisanship.

Two topics from 5 topic submissions from each candidate were selected to kick this week off:
1. Publicly Funded Elections by Joe Puente
2. The Ward on Drugs by Jake Shannon

Here is a digest of the debate so far.

Publicly Funded Elections

Joseph Puente

There is legislation in Congress right now to bring about publicly funded elections. It's called the Fair Elections Now Act. Under this law, candidates for the House and Senate who raise a threshold number of small-dollar donations would qualify for public funding—several hundred thousand dollars for House, millions for many Senate races. If they accept this funding, they CAN'T raise big-dollar donations. But they can raise contributions up to $100, which would be matched 4-to-1 by a central fund. The bill also calls for reduced fees for TV airtime, providing an incentive for politicians to opt into this system and run people-powered campaigns.

I am challenging all Candidates for the U.S. Congress in District 3 to put elements of this legislation into practice for THIS election. Most notably, incumbent Jason Chaffetz. I'm calling on him specifically to give up the nearly quarter of a million dollars in special interest money he has been paid and promise to accept nothing more from corporate and special interests and to limit personal contributions to $100 per person. Let's test this legislation and see if it can genuinely level the playing field for all those who wish to participate in our participatory government.

If Chaffetz chooses to ignore this challenge, then will make it clear to the people of District 3 that he embraces the status quo. That he values corporate interests over the public interest and that he would rather live with a corrupt and hijacked political system that favors a few wealthy people over the average individual.

For more information on publicly funded elections and the Fair Elections Now Act, I invite you all to visit the following web sites:

Jake Shannon

Again, this is another example of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. Publicly funded elections have been found to be unconstitutional and ineffective, a bad combination in my estimation.

A 2003 study by United States Government Accounting Office (GAO) found that publicly funded elections in Maine and Arizona failed to produce measurable benefits ( In 2008, "Judge Roslyn Silver ruled that the Matching Funds provision of the [Clean Elections] Act violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution because it opens up new avenues for possible corruption in the electoral process" (

Campaign finance is an important issue but must be carefully vetted so as not to infringe upon First Amendment rights. In particular I find my opinion matches that of Robert A. Levy:

"[A]re there any campaign contributions or expenditures that should be illegal?

Yes: First, misuse of a government office by favoring donors who seek government contracts and services. That would breach an official's fiduciary responsibility to his constituents. Second, payoffs to a candidate — secretly contributed, then spent on personal pleasures like a new car. Numerous laws are already on the books to prosecute such abuses. But when a candidate fully discloses a donation and puts the money in a segregated fund that can be used only for constitutionally favored political expression, that is not corruption. And the First Amendment does not allow treating advocacy as if it were a bribe. Our system may not be perfect; but it is, after all, the system that the Constitution has established" (

Joseph Puente

Then how do we make sure that candidates are beholden to the people and not the corporate interests that fund their campaigns? This has nothing to do with the first amendment. No one's right to free expression is being infringed through publicly funded elections it simply assures the public the that their interests are placed above those of special/corporate interests.

Jake Shannon

Well, as I quoted earlier, there are already many laws on the books already to prosecute abuses. But first I am concerned that the method you've proposed has been demonstrated to be A) ineffective B) and unconstitutional (having Judge Silver ruling against "clean" elections as a violation of Amendment 1).

My solution has three parts. First, I'd propose enforcing the laws already on the books.

Second, I suggest the most effective way to make sure that candidates are beholden to the people is to require all those that seek office must enter into a "surety bond" type of contract where if the politician does not live up to promises made during their campaign, they would face some sort of penalty or incur a serious cost.

Third, I would propose an Amendment to revise the 14th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States to revoke corporation rights to contract, and to have those contracts honored the same as contracts entered into by natural persons. Corporations are not people, and as such should not be able to be protected by the First Amendment with regards to campaign contributions. This would make the only persons able to contribute to political campaigns be actual, natural persons, not corporations.

I know of no other candidate for office suggesting my second and third parts (but that doesn't mean that haven't been suggested like this before) as a solution.

Joe, do you have any substantial rebuttal to the evidence I've provided that demonstrates publicly-funded elections are inefficient and unconstitutional?

Gentleman, thanks for your thoughts--looking forward to much more.