Legislative leaders in Utah are working to expand the use of ranked choice voting for all offices in the state. In 2019, a pilot program allowing municipalities to adopt ranked choice voting for local elections passed with bipartisan support in the legislature. In 2020, the cities of Payson and Vineyard became the first municipalities to use the system; the Republican party also used the system for party nominating contests. In 2021, momentum in the legislature continued when a bill setting standards for city and county cooperation while implementing ranked choice voting passed.
Ranked choice voting is a commonsense change that gives voters the option to rank candidates for office in the order they prefer them. If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes that candidate received count instantly towards the next choice on those voters’ ballots. That process repeats until a candidate receives a majority of the vote and wins.
Ranked choice voting gives voters a stronger voice and more choice when they cast their ballots, eliminates the “spoiler effect,” and helps guarantee that elected leaders are supported by a true majority.
Local advocates are now working to convince more municipalities to adopt the system, with a goal of at least six cities by the end of 2021. Further, there is bipartisan and bicameral support for legislation that will likely be re-introduced in 2022 to use ranked choice voting for party contests.
Utah Ranked Choice Voting is led by former Republican Party chairman Stan Lockhart and former Republican representative Kory Holdaway. Their board includes five current state and county elected officials.