As Park City’s GOP caucus unfolded, someone called for police help
It was nearing 11 p.m. on March 22, a few hours after Republicans gathered for the closely watched presidential balloting during the state’s caucus, when the Park City Police Department received a call from someone in attendance at the GOP event at Park City High School.
By then it was clear the Republican voting had not unfolded as many who were there anticipated. Some said they were denied the right to vote, and the scene was tense at some points.
At 10:42 p.m., long after the voting ended, police dispatchers received a call from an unidentified person who was at the high school. Rick Ryan, a police captain, said the person wanted an officer to meet them at the school, saying they were upset with the situation. The person told the police the voting had been closed before they could cast a ballot.
The person "really wanted to vent," Ryan said about the call to the police. Ryan said the Police Department sent an officer to the high school to talk to the person, a 58-year-old woman who lives in Park City. Ryan said the Police Department, though, had no control over what occurred. The officers could not assist in the situation, he said.
The call to the Police Department is an intriguing sidebar to the controversy regarding the Republican caucus, which was expected to be one of the highlights of the political year but ended with numerous people displeased. The Republicans were energized as they readied to cast votes in a contest for the presidential nomination that had not been decided by the time of the state’s caucus.
The Summit County Republicans turned away an unknown number of people who wanted to cast a ballot in the presidential contest. Tal Adair, the chairman of the Summit County Republican Party, was the primary figure representing the party. Adair that night said the issue centered on a process known as credentialing. During credentialing, the party checks to be sure that someone is registered to vote as a Republican or the party registers them at the site of the caucus.
Adair called the state party for guidance after the credentialing process had been closed. He said that night an official with the Utah Republican Party told him the credentialing could not be reopened after it had been closed. There was visible displeasure as some of the people who were turned away confronted Adair. At one point, there was approximately 15 people surrounding Adair asking questions, some of them in a sharp tone.
Adair was not aware of the report to the police until contacted by The Park Record for comment, saying it is an "unfortunate situation." He reaffirmed that the rules of the caucus did not allow him to reopen the credentialing. He added that the caucus could not begin until the credentialing was ended.
"Who would want to stop someone from voting? Why would I want to do that? I wouldn’t," Adair said.
Adair also provided a prepared statement to The Park Record: "We are saddened for those came late and credentialing was closed and couldn’t participate in the caucus for this we are truly sorry. We thought we made every effort and contingencies for the larger crowds that came to caucus this year. However we fell short in our goal and we deeply apologize for the frustration that was caused. It’s great we had such a record turn out and people are engaged in the political process, it’s our hope the participation continues to grow. With this growth there will be growing pains but will address them head on. We will work with State and County Party leaders to see if the rules can be amended to allow credentialing to be reopened once it is has been closed and how we can get people registered quickly so the caucus meetings can start on time. (7:00pm) We will also work with the media to help educate and inform the public about the rules and Credentialing times and how the caucus works at the grass roots level, with all the political parties.
We will work with the legislature to see if there is a better way to have our voices heard in those years we have Presidential caucuses. Utah is making history this year. No longer are we (a flyover) State. Candidates have to come to Utah and hear what the citizens have to say."
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