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If Utahns do not attend mass meetings held April 30 in their voting districts, they may forfeit the opportunity to have any say about whom they will vote for in the final election.

County and state delegates elected at the mass meetings will have the power to eliminate all but one candidate in every race.If your preferred candidate is eliminated from the race at the county or state convention, all of the "I'm going to vote for you" rhetoric will ring hollow.

In cases where opposition parties do not field a candidate for a given race, candidates who eliminate all competition at the convention emerge from the convention already elected to the office and don't even have a primary or final election wherein citizens can cast a vote.

By law, all political parties must hold caucus meetings for every voting district. These mass meetings, or party caucuses as they are now called, are held the last Monday of April and are for ALL citizens who are or will be of voting age (18 years or over) by Nov. 6.

Two especially important things take place at the mass meetings: The election of county and state delegates and the election of voting district officers.

1. Every voting district is allotted one or two state delegates and from one to possibly six county delegates, depending on your voting district's past voting performance and depending upon the total number of delegates allotted to your county party. These delegates have very powerful votes.

County delegates have two meetings to attend: the county party nominating convention this year and the county party organizing convention next spring. At the nominating convention, these delegates have the power to eliminate all but one contender from every race.

These delegates determine who the candidates will be for all of the county races and for the Utah State House of Representatives and the Utah State Senate. They also vote on the county party platform if the county party has a platform separate from the state party platform.

At the organizing convention next year, these delegates also elect the new county party officers who will determine the direction the county party will go, be responsible for recruiting the men and women who will run for various offices, and in other ways impact our political environment.

State delegates also have two meetings to attend: the state party nominating convention this year and the state party organizing convention next summer. At the nominating convention, state delegates vote on the state party platform and can eliminate all but one candidate from each state or federal race being contested.

This year, there are no state offices up for election nor either of our U.S. Senate seats. However, all three congressional seats are up for election. In the 3rd Congressional District, several candidates have filed to run on the Republican ticket, and all but one or two will be completely eliminated from the contest by the state delegates.

At the organizing convention next year, these state delegates will elect the new state party officers who will determine the direction the state party will go, recruit candidates for state and federal offices and also help recruit candidates for the Utah State Legislature.

2. New voting district party officers are elected at the mass meetings (party caucuses). These party officers serve for two years. The voting district chairmen and voting district vice chairmen comprise the county party central committee.

In addition to voting district responsibilities, they have responsibility for electing new legislators if an incumbent moves from the district, dies or resigns.

Because some legislative districts have only 18 to 20 voting districts, a small handful of people (36 to 40) have the power to eliminate contenders for the office and decide which three challengers should have their names submitted to the governor for his final selection.

The central committee (voting district chairmen and vice chairmen) may also be called together to vote upon replacement of officials in county government or county party officers who move, resign or die. Thus, these are important positions to hold.

Unfortunately, few people attend the mass meetings. In past years, attendance has ranged from 0 to 50 people. Many districts have 10 or fewer attendees.

If we truly believe that government ought to be "of the people, by the people and for the people," we must not let it continue to degenerate into "of a few people, by a few people and for a few people." The most powerful votes cast in the entire election process are the ones you cast for delegates at the mass meeting and the ones the delegates cast at the conventions.

You do not have to vote a straight party ticket to feel comfortable about attending party caucuses. Attend the meeting of the political party that most nearly reflects your own philosophy.

The important thing is: Attend and participate in this important phase of the election process.