SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah Republicans this week will choose 37 people as delegates to the Republican National Convention who could decide the party’s presidential nominee this summer if front-runner Donald Trump doesn’t lock up the contest first.
More than 400 people in Utah are vying to serve as delegates, who are typically longtime Republicans and state party activists.
Utah’s GOP delegates will be chosen on Saturday at the state Republican Party’s nominating convention in Salt Lake City.
Some questions and answers about Utah’s process for choosing presidential delegates:
WHAT ARE DELEGATES?
Delegates from every state attend national party conventions, where they cast their vote for the party’s nominee for president. At the conventions, most delegates are required to vote for a particular candidate based on the way voters in their states cast ballots in primaries and caucuses. On the Republican side, Trump is looking to win 1,237 delegates to secure the nomination before the GOP’s July convention in Cleveland. If Trump doesn’t win in the first round of balloting at the convention, then delegates who are pledged by their state rules to support him will then be free to support the candidate of their choice.
HOW MANY DELEGATES WILL UTAH REPUBLICANS ELECT?
Utah’s delegates to the national Republican convention will be selected Saturday at the party’s state convention, where state delegates will also be meeting to pick candidates for Congress, governor and other state offices. They’ll be picking 37 who will serve as national delegates. They’ll also confirm two people running to serve as the party’s National Committeeman and National Committeewoman. The national delegates, the committeeman, committeewoman and state party chair James Evans will be Utah’s 40 delegates in Cleveland. But to ensure that Utah is represented in Cleveland, Utah also sends 40 alternates to the convention, who can step in and cast a vote if someone needs to leave. Those 40 alternates will also be picked Saturday. Candidates cannot run to be both a delegate and an alternate.
HOW ARE DELEGATES PICKED?
More than 400 people are running for the 77 posts as Republican national delegates or alternates. They’ll appear on paper ballots Saturday, which will be scanned and tallied before the event wraps up. Evans, the party chair, said there are twice as many people running to be national delegates or alternates this year than there were four years ago. “I think people sense the historic nature of this, that there’s uncertainty of who the candidate will be,” Evans said. “I think a lot of people want to weigh in on that.”
ARE DELEGATES COMMITTED TO A CANDIDATE?
Utah’s 40 delegates are all bound to vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the first round of balloting at the national convention. Cruz swept the state’s GOP caucus in March, winning about 69 percent of the vote. After that first ballot, Utah’s delegates will be free to switch their votes.