All registered voters are invited to attend the precinct caucus of their party. There they elect representatives ( called “delegates”) who will vote to determine who will be in the primary election for that party, if any. Delegates also vote on the party platform and determine the rules of the party. They decide if the party should move more to the right or left.
This is called the “delegate convention” system of selecting the party’s candidate for the general election.
An alternative to the “delegate convention” system is the “direct primary” system. In the direct primary system, and person who want to run for office must first run in a primary election.
This can be very expensive and tends to discourage candidates who may be very qualified, but don’t have the money or the name recognition for a primary campaign.
The direct primary system favors those who are wealthy or famous. This is not the best system for getting good representation.
The delegate system protects our elections from being dominated by the wealthy and famous. It focuses more on the qualifications and ideas of the candidates and less on their name recognition or their spending ability.
Without the delegate system, candidates can simply outspend their opponents on sound-bites and mailings. Or they can rely on a well-known family name. They don’t have to answer hard questions or explain themselves in detail.
With the grass-roots delegate system, candidates without personal wealth or special-interest financial backing have an equal chance. The candidates personally meet with your elected delegates and make their case. Delegates represent YOU and ask the questions that YOU would ask, if the candidates would give you that kind of personal attention.
Of course you will hear complaints about this system from politicians with lots of money to influence voters! (Such as the Count My Vote committee). But the delegate system is one of the reasons why Utah is doing so well right now. States that do not have the delegate system, like California, don’t have the quality of representation that Utah has.