GRAMA works: Be proud we kept it in Utah
I want the people of Carbon County and all that read this to know that GRAMA works.
No not your grandma, GRAMA.
A few weeks ago I revealed in this column that the Utah State Senate had passed a resolution during the last legislative session proposing that a secret ballot be held on how members of the Senate felt about the candidates that were running for the United States Senate from the state of Utah.
Whether "secret ballot" meant they wanted the actual activity of voting kept secret or how people voted in the secret ballot was not clear to me. But I wanted to know if in this case GRAMA worked.
So I submitted a GRAMA request to the legislative auditors office concerning the secret ballot. That request caused a bit of a firestorm because it was obviously they were not expecting it. Through a source I received the resulting emails sent out to state senators concerning my request. I don't know if the revelation of a member of the press asking for information from a secret ballot had an effect on the voting, but it sure did create a hornets nest.
The legislative auditors office responded to me that when the voting was completed they would release any forms or information to me that they had. Of course there had been a suggestion that State Senators "call in" their votes and then there would be no record to report.
The the Legislative Auditors office did honor their word (I'm sure at least partly because their lawyers told them to). They sent me the completed written ballots last week.
The State Senators had many choices on these ballots. They could pick from 16 candidates, one selection of "None of the above," and also the selection of "I decline to participate."
When I reviewed the ballots at first it appeared the "I decline to participate" had won the contest. But that wasn't the case.
The Legislative Auditors office sent me 26 ballots. There are 29 State Senators, so three didn't even bother to vote. Of the 26 who did, 11 voted for Dan Liljenquist, seven voted for present Senator Orrin Hatch, and two voted for Scott Howell. Six declined to participate.
Based on what I saw come out of the state Republican conventions held in the last couple of weeks, unlike former Senator Bob Bennett who was tossed out in convention a couple of years ago, Hatch has been able to keep delegates and appears to be ahead in the power struggle with Liljenquist for capturing his parties nomination.
The State Senators who voted iun the majority favored one of their own, Liljenquist, a former member of the Utah State Legislature. But not by much.
What does this tell us?
About the nomination or election, pretty much nothing. These are just 26 individuals who have an opinion.
On the other hand it does tell us that the Government Records and Managment Act works, even when the legislature wants to keep something secret or at least semi-secret.
That's good for all of us because in a very one sided political system that Utah has it becomes easier and easier for one party to hide things if they want to.
GRAMA helps to take away some of that tendency, because if word gets out about something, you can bet there is some citizen or news reporter who will want to know about it.
And let's face it, in some form or configuration, word always gets out.