As a State Central Committee member and a candidate for the SCC at the April 25th Utah County Convention, I would like to give my personal observations on one of the issues Steve Diamond brought up in his “items we must still attend to” email last week: the State Central Committee ballot count.
After the convention was officially over, I decided I would hang out and wait for the State Central Committee count to be completed. It was taking forever. I started to feel very guilty about having unintentionally roped my poll watcher into staying for the entire day, when I thought he would only be counting during the convention.
I waited downstairs for quite awhile and then ventured up to the counting room. Being a candidate myself, I approached the room cautiously, not wanting to, in any way, compromise the count. I peeked into the room and asked if someone could give a message to my poll watcher, because I didn’t think it would be appropriate for a candidate in that race to be inside the room while the counting was going on.
As I waited, by the door, for the message to reach my poll watcher, I looked around and saw that Susan Bramble,* who was also candidate for the State Central Committee, had a stack of ballots in front of her next to her left hand. She had a pencil in her right hand and seemed to be making marks on a paper. Then someone informed me that the poll watchers had given up watching the polls and were, instead, helping with the count, because there were so many ballots. This bothered me, because, obviously, the purpose of poll watchers is to ensure that the counting is done correctly, not to help with the counting themselves.
As I turned away to head back down the stairs, Chad Bunn, the man who was in charge of the counting of the ballots, came back up the stairs with another candidate for the State Central Committee. They both asked me if I would come and help count. I said, no, I could not help count because I was a candidate. The other candidate said: “So am I.” And Chad Bunn said: “Pffft!,” waved one hand in the air, and, with the other, lifted his blue candidate tag up for me to see.
The person in charge of organizing the ballot counting was, himself, a candidate!
If these people were not seasoned county officers, this glaring error in judgement might be attributed to inexperience.
I understand that in Utah County, among so many “nice” people it is easy to think that this is not an issue, that everyone is going to be fair. But the idea that it is inappropriate for candidates to count ballots is not without reason. Whether there was any hanky-panky going on is not the issue I am most concerned with at the moment. The main issue is that the counting is supposed to be observed by poll watchers, be done by non-candidates and be openly and unquestionably fair. The impropriety here was in not following protocol, if nothing else. This cavalier attitude toward rule-breaking and questionable conduct has been very prevalent among our leadership.
I’d like to see our party do better than this. There should be no suggestion of impropriety. We should be bending over backwards to make sure that everything is done by the rules and is completely above board.
I think it is time for those who are really in charge of the party to stand up and take back the authority that is theirs. If you are a chair or vice-chair in your precinct, please come to the County Central Committee meeting on May 30. Please let the new party leadership know that you are watching them and that you expect them to abide by the rules and take the high road where all matters of ethics are concerned.
Kristen S. Chevrier
Precinct Chair HI04
P.S. (Since I came in 34th in the voting tally for the 2009 SCC, and only the top 20 win, no action taken on this issue by the County Central Committee will put me in the top 20.)
*Susan is the wife of Senator Curt Bramble; she just retired as Utah County Party Secretary, and is no neophyte in the political arena.