The COVID-19 pandemic will prevent Cache County political party members from gathering at their annual conventions, but for local Republicans the show will go on with the help of a voting app and Facebook Live.
The virtual GOP convention will even include a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner,” complements of Cache Republican Chairman Chris Booth’s daughter, Genna, who has experience performing the national anthem at local high school basketball games.
Other than Genna, Booth himself will be the only face featured on the convention’s Facebook Live feed. He will make opening remarks, preview each round of voting and announce results, which will be gathered via a voting app known as Voatz.
“It’s been a long, arduous process trying to get this all set up,” Booth said. “This is the first time ever doing any kind of alternative voting at our convention. I mean, shoot, up until all of this (the pandemic) came about, we were preparing to do it the old-fashioned way with paper ballots.”
The old-fashioned way was actually quicker, with convention speeches, voting and ballot counting all occurring in a single night. This year’s virtual convention will span over three days — from Thursday, April 16, to Saturday, April 18 — to ensure each round of voting goes smoothly.
Candidates’ speeches will be prerecorded and made available on the Cache Republican Party website.
Cache County Democrats have canceled their annual convention outright since all of their candidates for county offices are running unopposed. And in place of holding elections for delegates and precinct officers, they have asked previous designees to continue their service until the next convention.
Cache Democratic Party Chairman Danny Beus noted that although the county party won’t have an online convention, online is where all candidates have been forced to do their campaigning.
“With the way things are, we’re going to have to go digital with everything we do, so in the near future look for our candidates on Facebook, on Instagram and on their websites online,” Beus said.
Local Democrats this year have fielded candidates for all offices up for re-election. They currently hold no seats in county government or the Utah Legislature for Cache County.
On the Republican side, four election races feature multiple candidates. Vying for the GOP nomination for county recorder are Devron Andersen, Deon Hunsaker and Garrett Mansell. Running for the Cache County Council south-district nomination are Marc Ensign and Nolan Gunnell. Running for the State House District 3 nomination are Mike Petersen and Val Potter. Running for State Senate District 25 are Chris Wilson and Lyle Hillyard.
Since Senate District 25 crosses county lines, it will not be included on county convention ballots. State GOP convention delegates will settle that race.
Booth said use of a voting app was arranged through the state Republican Party in conjunction with a number of county parties.
“It’s not the ideal situation, but it’s the best option we have given the fact that we can’t meet in person,” he said. “My top priority has been ensuring the integrity of the process and ensuring privacy for the voters.”