On Friday a bill passed out of the Utah House that would change Utah’s election process to allow ranked choice voting in statewide elections.
The bill would make ranked choice voting allowed at all election levels in the state, starting in 2019. Also known as instant run-off voting, with this method voters rank their top three choices in a political race. If there’s a simple majority, that candidate wins. If not, the next tier of rankings get considered until a majority is found.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle showed broad support for the bill. Democratic Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck is its sponsor.
"Colleagues, this bill allows voters, regardless of party affiliation, to rank all candidates in an election according to their preference," Chavez-Houck said.
During floor debate, Republican Representative Marc Roberts spoke about how ranked choice encourages voters to choose their preferred candidates, instead of just picking the lesser of two evils.
"With this sort of situation, with ranked choice, you can list your preferences. Currently we have a system where you end up voting against people," Roberts said.
On the Democratic side, Representative Joel Briscoe spoke about how the legislation would allow lawmakers to better understand voters.
"Ranked choice voting allows us to get beyond just a yes or no on one candidate. It allows us to express a broader range of viewpoint and opinion," Briscoe said.
According to the nonpartisan organization FairVote, ranked choice voting is used in a number of cities around the country and in Maine’s statewide elections.
HB349 passed 59 to 12. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.