This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Nobody runs for the Legislature because they have an inferiority complex.

But the notion that the constituents of the Utah Legislature are more intelligent and discerning than those of New Hampshire, so much so that they should try to claw away the Granite State's long-time position of holding the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, is egotism on a grand scale. Even for politicians.

Yet the Utah House Monday passed, 58-14, a bill that would put Utah — alone, or with as yet unnamed others in a Western States Presidential Primary — at the head of the line of the presidential winnowing process in 2016.

HB410 now goes to the Senate where, given the crush of more important last-minute business, it is likely to be abandoned. As it should be.

There is much to criticize in the status quo of presidential primaries. Both major political parties and their hopefuls have genuflected to New Hampshire, long the site of the first primary, and Iowa, the even earlier location of Utah-like neighborhood caucuses. States that try to get ahead of that curve are punished by a loss of delegates to the national convention.

There is no particular reason why those states, out of all 50, should hold that much sway over the process. Other than the most compelling argument known to humanity: We've always done it this way.

But for the various states to get into a grudge match over which of them should have this undeserved honor does not solve the problem. Not only would a Utah-first system favor candidates that run to the right of the national consensus — at least among Republicans — it could also trigger a round of escalation among the states that could push the beginning of balloting for the 2016 election well into 2015. As if The Permanent Campaign weren't already bad enough.

A better solution, often suggested before, would be regional primaries — Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, West (yes, like the NCAA basketball tournament) — with the first spot rotating among the regions every four years.

One aspect of this bill, though, should be worth exploring. Sponsor Rep. Jon Cox, R-Ephraim, would have the Utah presidential primary conducted completely online.

In a state that for years has stuck to its exclusionary caucus-and-convention system, and resists making it possible for voters to sign initiative petitions online, this would be a huge step toward real democracy.

Let's try it out on our own elections, though, before making it a factor in a presidential campaign.

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