Payson and Vineyard will likely be the only cities in the state of Utah trying out a new form of voting, called ranked choice voting, for their municipal elections in 2019, after multiple other cities that had expressed interest ended up backing out of the new pilot program.
Ranked choice voting is a system that allows people to rank all candidates in a race from first to last. If a candidate receives more than half of the first-choice votes, they win the election. If no one receives more than half, however, the last-place candidate is eliminated. When a voter’s first choice is eliminated, their second choice is included in the count for the second round. That process continues until a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the total vote.
Advocates of the system say benefits include obtaining a true majority winner and more civil races because candidates are trying to appeal to all voters, rather than just their base, because the candidate wants to be that voter’s second choice.
The concept was discussed at a Payson City Council meeting last week, with the council opting to stay with the pilot program. Payson Mayor Bill Wright said there will be a cost savings for the city, since ranked choice voting eliminates the need for Payson to hold a primary.