SALT LAKE CITY, (ABC4 Utah) – Utah had record numbers for voters coming out to caucus Tuesday night. One party is calling out the Lieutenant Governor’s Office for not running a state-wide primary.
The Utah Democrats say that the state should be running these contests because the Lt. Governor’s Office has the means to run a proper election.
The Utah Democrats prepared for 65,000 voters, but would have to print off more ballots because nearly 80,000 Utah Democrats came out to vote. 20,000 of those voters were new voters.
“Overwhelming turnout is a great problem to have but it comes with the challenges as well,” said Utah Democratic Party Chairmen Peter Corroon. “State parties should be in the business of winning elections not running elections”
Democrats say they were just not prepared to run the election.
“We know things could have run more smoothly if last night’s election had been run by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the 29 county clerks that we have here in Utah,” said Corroon. “Because the state refused to fund a presidential primary, Utahns were unable to vote by mail and many were unable to vote via absentee ballet.”
The Lieutenant Governor’s Office agrees with the Democrats. It said they could have run the caucus, supplied vote by mail and absentee ballets, as well as supplied more polling locations.
Mark Thomas the Chief Deputy in the Lt. Governor’s Office said, “We were willing to do it this time but it just wasn’t appropriated.”
Thomas said legislators are the ones to divvy up $3 million for the elections.
“The Governor and the Lt. Governor put in their budget a $3 million request and it was not funded. The parties wanted to conduct their own presidential caucus and so now to have the finger pointing back up is a little bit unfortunate,” said Thomas.
The office said since Utah is growing, it maybe time to move away from caucusing.
“I think we need to have a little bit more forethought in to how we do this. Obviously it is not the Lt. Governor’s role or decision to decide whether we move away from the presidential caucus system,” Thomas added. ” Personally being at a caucus location, seeing the line that wraps around, I mean we need to be able to do it better. Whether it’s the party that is conducting it or the state.”
Utah Republican Party Chairmen James Evans said, “Running out of ballots is a good thing. That means you have more people than anticipated and that’s why we can go back a generation and just use regular paper.”
Evans told Good4Utah the party saw similar lines as Democrats but the GOP was prepared for the extra voters.
“We can do a presidential primary online as a political party. So I don’t know if the state needs to conduct our primaries or our selection process. It’s a private party selection process,” said Evans.
Preliminary results show Republican Ted Cruz won Utah over front runner Donald Trump and Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Cruz is expected to take home all 40 Utah delegates.
The Utah Democrats said they have roughly 2,500 ballots to go over before issuing their final caucus results.
Preliminary results show Burnie Sanders leads 80 percent of votes to Hillary Clinton’s 20 percent and will split delegates proportionately. Clinton is expected to pick up two super delegates and Sanders will receive one delegate with one super delegate sill deciding.
The final results are expected by April 6.