Letter: Approval voting ends with happy voters — and deserves a try in Utah

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) A voter drops his ballot in the drop box at Murray City Hall, on Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021.

Recently the Utah Legislature made a key decision, to pull the expansion of ranked-choice voting from the agenda. While this decision has received a lot of mixed opinions, I think it’s important to consider just why this happened. Yes, the Legislature is facing large opposition from groups concerned over election fraud and security but there’s a background narrative around this issue specifically.

In 2018 the Legislature made the decision to test alternative voting methods across the state in municipal elections. That pilot project runs until 2026 and so far the state has only tested one method: Instant runoff voting, otherwise known as ranked-choice voting (RCV). The pulled bill, HB178, would have brought RCV to every race in the state. By this action, the Legislature has indicated they are not yet ready to make a decision on a statewide method and Utah isn’t ready for that decision either.

That’s why there’s another bill, HB395, being sponsored by Rep. Robertson of Provo that would add another method, called approval voting, to the pilot to expand the test. Under approval voting, voters can vote for all of the candidates they like, rather than just one, and the candidate with the most votes wins. No ranking or rounds. This simple but effective change produces clear, strong, representative winners and ends with happy voters. It’s also cost-effective and doesn’t change how we count votes and for that reason, all 29 county clerks in Utah have come out in support of approval voting as the best alternative. The Legislature has an easier decision with approval voting: simply adding it to the pilot project to see how voters, cities, and counties like it. Send an email to your legislators letting them know you support seeing more methods tested.

Nate Allen, Clinton

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