While the 2021 legislative session may be over in Utah, the discussion on election reform and alternative voting methods is reaching a peak. In just a few days, there will be a committee meeting to discuss the various options ranging from ranked-choice voting and runoff elections to approval voting. It is this last method, namely, approval voting, that offers the most promising outcomes in Utah’s elections.
Approval voting is a simple method, it allows voters to choose all of the candidates on a ballot they support rather than just one. This simplicity lends its benefits in many ways from a quicker understanding by voters and minimal changes to the already existing ballot, to cheaper implementation for counties running elections and quicker tabulation and reported results as compared to other alternatives. In fact, it is due to these many benefits stemming from its simplicity that county clerks are now coming out in support of giving approval voting a shot in Utah.
What about voter benefits? Two of the most important are voter satisfaction and how it handles the spoiler effect. In various studies, approval voting consistently scores at the top of the field for how pleased all voters are with the outcomes of various methods. Additionally, due to the ability to vote for all candidates you support, choosing your favorite candidate, even if they aren’t likely to win, does not increase the chance that your least favorite will win, otherwise known as a lesser-of-two-evils decision. In fact, you can also vote for your favorite viable candidate in addition to your favorite overall guaranteeing your vote does only what you intend it to do: support the candidates you support.
As a serious proponent of selecting the best possible option for Utah, I encourage the members of this committee to choose approval voting. I also encourage voters to email their representatives asking them to choose the best option for Utah.
Nate Allen, Clinton