Utah caucus surprisingly takes a larger stage

The line at Clayton Middle School for the democratic caucus wrapped around the front and back of the school. For both democratic and republican primaries in Utah, voter turnout was bigger than expected, which included a shortage of ballots and computer problems. Photo by Rachel Robertson

The line at Clayton Middle School for the democratic caucus wrapped around the front and back of the school. For both democratic and republican primaries in Utah, voter turnout was bigger than expected, which included a shortage of ballots and computer problems. Photo by Rachel Robertson

One of the biggest and most controversial elections in American history reached the state of Utah on March 22, and—in spite of crowded venues—had less turnout than in previous years.

Westminster students had the opportunity to vote at Emerson Elementary School for the Democratic Party and East High for the Republican Party.

Those who went out to caucus experienced hours of waiting in the cold rain for well over an hour.

On the republican side, a winner-takes-all delegate event took place. The competition between Donald Trump, John Kasich and Ted Cruz featured a few controversial moves that have created a significant effect on the GOP race, along with a surprising result. With the primaries having been mostly friendly to Trump, Cruz swept Utah, taking all of the delegates in the state.

But why? For starters, Trump has said numerous derogatory statements toward Muslims, people of color, protestors and women.

Along with Trump’s absolute lack of compassion, which is a centerpiece of morals for the Mormons, he also questioned Mitt Romney, the former republican presidential candidate and Mormon, who is devout and faithful to the church. Romney, who stumped for Kasich in Ohio, ended up endorsing Cruz, which helped aid Cruz to a sweeping victory, along with giving Trump a third-place finish in Utah.

For the democrats, Bernie Sanders blew out the current delegate leader from the democratic primary, Hillary Clinton. The sweeping win by Sanders got him to chop a little bit at Clinton’s nearly insurmountable delegate count, but a controversial loss in Arizona the same night only slightly lowered the gap.

The scene at Emerson Elementary School was packed, with the line throughout the night sometimes reaching five to six blocks long. After hours of waiting, voters finally got to cast their ballots and helped create a record-setting number in the precinct of a little more than 6,000.

For both democratic and republican primaries in Utah, voter turnout was bigger than expected, which included a shortage of ballots and computer problems. The number of voters did not reach the record-setting number in 2008, which was nearly double the number achieved this year. Part of that was due to the epic race between Clinton and Barack Obama, along with Romney going against John McCain for the republican nomination.

Ultimately, Utah could play a vital role in the 2016 election. Over the past 50 years, the state has gone for the republicans. For example, in the 2012 election, Romney nearly took three-fourths of the vote versus President Obama. But with a growing millennial demographic, and a potential disdain between Trump and the Mormon community, many may shift to the left to keep him out of the oval office.

Recent polls have shown Clinton and Sanders beating Trump in the state of Utah, albeit Clinton wins by a much shorter margin than Senator Sanders. Come November, republicans may face losing one of their key strongholds from the past 50 years. In fact, losing the state of Utah could cost the election for the conservatives and put another democrat, or democratic socialist, in the White House.