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Ranked-choice voting coming to some Utah cities

FILE -- Melinda Tooley drops off her primary ballot at Midvale City Hall in Midvale on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Ballots for the upcoming municipal elections are going out in the mail this week. In some Utahcities, voters will have a ranked-choice ballot for municipal offices.

Ranked-choice allows voters to pick a first choice for every office on the ballot, but also to mark a second, third or even more choices depending on the number of candidates.

How does ranked-choice voting work in Utah?

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen explained how ranked-choice voting will work in some Utah cities:

“Across the ballot, on the top, it will have first choice, second choice, third choice, for example, and down the left side, it will have the list of the candidates names.” 

If one candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, he or she is the winner. If no candidate gets a majority, the first-choice votes for the one with the lowest number are eliminated and the votes are tallied again. The process is repeated until one candidate gets a majority.

A sample ballot with ranked-choice voting information
Salt Lake County Clerk

Swensen says instructions are included with every ballot, and the process is explained on the county clerk’s website.

She says it’s OK if the voter doesn’t rank every candidate. 

“It doesn’t ruin their ballot if they don’t choose to rank all the candidates,” Swensen told KSL Newsradio. “They can rank as many or as few, up to the limit, as they choose.”

Swensen says Utah’s vote-by-mail system has proven to be very successful, with 549,000 votes cast in last year’s general election.

“There was only 52,000 that showed up to vote in person,” she says. “So that tells me that people in Salt Lake County trust and really like the vote-by-mail process.”

Ballots are due back by November 2nd.


Municipal elections are the most important vote — so cast your ballot