Andrew McCullough's Blog

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Promoting Utah Democracy

Jamuary 28, 2012

As most readers would know, I am Treasurer of the Utah Libertarian Party. You also know that ours is a small party, and that we have very few big donors. A big part of our annual budget comes from Utah's income tax checkoff program. This allows anyone to donate $2.00 of their tax money to the party of their choice, by putting the appropirate letter("L") in a box near the top of their income tax form. About 2/3 of this money, of course, goes to the "dominant party"; but our party also makes enough money to help our candidates with filing fees and other simple campaign help. In order to stay on the ballot, we must poll 2% in a statewide race. In 2010, we managed to do that by a whopping 60 vote margin (whew!).

Now a Bill has been introduced in the legislature to eliminate this option. Rep. Dougall, the sponsor, says this ends forced contributions to political parties (as all taxpayers lose when one contributes). This is actually a tax increase, as it eliminates the right of a person to withdraw a very small amount of his own taxes to support his political cause. This might make some sense if the State did not heavily subsidize political parties by paying for a closed primary election. This year, the Republican Party will hold a closed Presidential Primary, which may also include primary contests for other contested races. A closed primary, of course, only allows registered members of that one party to vote. The tax checkoff program in Utah does help the Republican Party, and Rep. Dougall would say he is selfless in denying this help to his own party. But the cost of this program is about $168,000, for all parties. The cost of a closed Republican Primary to the taxpayers is about $3 million (figures supplied by the State election office). Defunding closed primaries would be the best way to achieve savings by ending subsidies. Eliminating my right to withdraw this small amount to support my party furthers the domination of one party, which does not need it. The Bill has already passed the House, and now heads to the Senate. We Libertarians believe this is OUR tax money, and that we should maintain the right to direct this very small portion of it. We also believe that the "dominant party" should pay for its own primary elections, and save REAL money for the taxpayers.

If you agree, please ask your State Senator to oppose HB 50 when it comes before the Senate. And ask him or her to defund the Republican closed primary. Then ask a friend to do the same. You can find your Senator's e-mail address by going to the legislative branch of the government in the government website,

Then please consider making the checkoff to our little party when you file your income taxes, so we can continue to give voters a real choice. In 2010, we ran candidates for office in 4 counties where Democrats did not contest Republican domination. Isn't this choice worth a little effort to preserve?


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