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Letter: We need to implement ranked choice voting

(Leah Hogsten | Tribune file photo) Voters cast their ballots at Ogden's Union Station during Utah's Super Tuesday primary, Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

Implementing Jefferson’s ideal of “consent of the governed” is an American story of continual improvement. Remember, women voting, secret ballots, even non-property-owning males voting were all once radical ideas.

Tuesday’s Utah Democratic primary is an example of why Utah needs ranked choice voting (aka instant run-off voting), especially with early mail-in ballots.

I mailed my ballot days before the official primary election day on Tuesday. Then the Sunday before the election my candidate withdrew from the race, making my vote irrelevant. By Monday, three candidates had dropped out.

Imagine if Utah voters could have ranked their choices: If their first choice withdrew or didn’t reach the 15% threshold, then their votes would have gone to their second or third choice. Ranked-choice allows voters to vote their heart without the fear of throwing away their vote or, worse, helping their least favorite candidate win.

Maine and many cities now use ranked voting, including San Francisco and New York City, so it’s clearly doable.

Utah allows cities to use it for local elections, but only Payson and Vineyard do; Provo will in 2021. Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swenson, who runs elections in the county, opposes the system because she fears it is too cumbersome and expensive, so cities don’t opt to use it.

Voters and city officials who believe that fairer voting matters need to insist that Swenson be a problem-solver who moves us forward, not a foot-dragger holding us back.

Elbert Eugene Peck, Salt Lake City

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