Up until last Friday, I was a registered Republican. In Utah, to participate in the Republican Primary, you must be registered with that party. To participate in the Democratic Primary, you must be either a registered Democrat or unaffiliated. Another quirk of the system here is that the winner of the Republican primary gets the votes of all of the Republican delegates from the state. The winner of the Democratic primary, on the other hand, only gets a portion of the delegates' votes (assuming that there are other candidates that received at least 15% of the primary vote.) This is a big part of the reason why the Republican candidates have largely ignored Utah and the Democrats are running TV ads in the state (for the first time ever according to ksl.com)
I like Mitt Romney. I'm not sure if he's my #1 candidate or not. He's going to win in Utah, no problem (He received 90% of the Republican Mormon vote in Nevada, and I expect the numbers will be similar here - and remember, most Utah Republicans are Mormon). He is my favorite candidate for a strong economy (see Massachusetts and the 2002 Winter Olympics) and Health care reform (once again, see Massachusetts). I would vote for him for these reasons, but not because he's a Mormon. While many of the people here profess that they aren't voting for him just because he's a Mormon, I don't believe all of them. I'd like to believe that he's getting the votes solely on his record and positions (which he changes more often than I think is reasonable - we call it "pandering to the crowd"...) and not on his beliefs. I guess its only fair though, he's losing out on a lot of votes because he IS Mormon, so maybe people should also vote for him because he IS Mormon. Like I said though, he's got Utah in the bag (I wasn't really planning on going off on Mitt here, maybe I'll give the lowdown on what I think about the rest of the candidates in another post - before Super Tuesday of course).
With all of that in mind, last Friday I made the trek to the County Clerk's office. Up until January 18, 2008 I had been a registered Republican in the state of Utah (and I even volunteered at the State Republican Convention in 2003). I stopped by the Clerk's office to change my party affiliation. I wanted my vote to matter. The odds are fairly good that our next President will be Democrat (thanks to President Bush for Iraq, ballooning the deficit and tax cuts for the rich) and the race between the top three Democrats is shaping up to be a close one. I wanted my vote to go towards a candidate that could use it and that would appreciate it more.
So I voted for Barack Obama. Now there will be no waiting in line at the polls and no more waffling on who to vote for, because the deed is done (and I still got a sticker that I am saving to wear on February 5th. I don't know if I would ever vote if they didn't give you the sticker. Although I do miss the old stickers with the flag on them...).