Ranked choice voting coming to MidvaleMay 26, 2021 12:57PM ● By Erin Dixon
Residents will be able to select their preference of candidates in order, their top choice being No. 1, and so on. (image/pixabay)
By Erin Dixon | [email protected]
Midvale is joining Sandy and other cities with ranked choice voting in city elections.
Instead of having a primary election in August and a general in November, there will be one election in November. The ballot can hold up to 10 candidates per position.
“It allows you to rank your candidates,” David May from Utah Ranked Choice Voting said. “It helps the first candidate reach 50% of the votes.”
The Utah Ranked Choice Voting site outlines the basic process: “Instead of choosing ONE candidate, ranked choice voting allows voters to rank all candidates according to their preference (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.). In each round of ranked choice voting, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated. When a voter's number one choice is eliminated, their second choice is included in the count for the second round. This process continues until the final round.”
“Abraham Lincoln would not have gotten the Republican nomination for the United States [with typical voting] because he was the third or fourth down,” councilmember Bryant Brown said.
During Lincoln's nomination, the candidate was required to have 50% of the vote, not just have the most votes.
“Fifty percent seems like a noble goal,” Brown said. “I think I got 35% of the votes, the next person down I think was 34%. Sixty-five percent didn’t vote for me, that doesn’t sound democratic to me.”
Payson and Vineyard piloted the program with some success.
“The issues were being debated a lot more,” May said. “Negative campaigning wasn't really an option, if they weren’t a person's first choice they want to be someone’s second.”
“You can get someone who is a consensus builder,” resident Sophia Hawes-Tingey said. “Less people will be less locked into one candidate.”
Hawes-Tingey has run for office three times and also sees this as a good move for candidates, not just for voters. If a voter has decided on a candidate, they are less likely to care about other candidates. Residents are then less likely to talk to prospective leaders.
“I don’t get to hear any needs I’m not aware of. If I were to win, they wouldn't have given me crucial information. It would have meant more opportunities to talk to people,” Hawes-Tingey said.
“I feel like it’s a step in the right direction in order to truly represent the people of our city,” resident Nikki Marie said on the Midvale Residents’ Facebook group.
“That being said, I feel like the first step along with RCV (Rank Choice Voting) is voter education.”
Resident Malorie Napton said in a public hearing that at first look, “it seems nice.”
“The more complicated you make something the more risk you have of something going wrong,” she said.
Napton was also concerned that the city adopted the change and then is educating them. “If my man were to go out and buy a car and educate me afterwards I’d be very unhappy with him.”
In the future, election costs for the city will be lower. With the change this year, however, the city plans to do a lot of outreach and education which will cost several thousand dollars. Midvale has 17,000 registered voters. Communications officer Laura Magness plans to spend several thousand dollars on ranked choice voting education.
To learn more about ranked choice voting visit, utahrcv.com/.