City Cast

What's the Deal With Ranked Choice Voting?

Terina Ria
Terina Ria
Posted on November 6
A sample ranked choice voting ballot. (Emily Means/City Cast Salt Lake)

A sample ranked choice voting ballot. (Emily Means/City Cast Salt Lake)

Many of you may have already received your mail-in ballot for the upcoming election, but did you hear about the change in how we’re voting? Salt Lake City has adopted ranked choice voting which will be used for the mayoral (for the first time) and city council elections. Salt Lake City Elections Management Coordinator Olivia Hoge was on City Cast Salt Lake to talk about the process. In a nutshell, here’s what you oughta know.

🗳 What Is Ranked Choice Voting?

Ranked choice voting, also called instant runoff voting, allows voters to rank candidates by preference on their ballot.

If a candidate wins more than 50% majority of first preference votes, then they are automatically the winner. However, if no one gets over 50% then the candidate with the fewest first preference votes will be eliminated. Then all the ballots that ranked the eliminated candidate first will be recounted, and whoever was their second choice will get the vote.

🗳 Why Ranked Choice Voting?

A lot of states and municipalities have been switching to this type of voting because it’s intended to create more of a civil election as candidates are also vying for that second preference vote. It’s also less expensive because it eliminates the need for a primary election.

🗳 Keep in Mind

Voters are not required to rank all candidates, but it could mean your ballot will become exhausted (or null) if your sole candidate is eliminated. Look at it this way: You should rank every candidate you would be OK with winning. But if you truly can’t stand a candidate, then don’t rank ‘em.

Also, your ballot will become exhausted if you select the same candidate for each preference. So for example, say the candidates are McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King. I can’t select McDonald’s to be my first, second, and third preferences. I can, however, vote McDonald’s as my first and only choice or select McDonald’s as first choice, Wendy’s as second choice, and Burger King as third choice. Only fill in one bubble per column.

This video explains more about how to fill out your RCV ballot.

🎧 Listen to our podcast City Cast Salt Lake to hear more about ranked choice voting from Salt Lake City Elections Management Coordinator Olivia Hoge.

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