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Vineyard, Payson to have election recount; results likely unaffected, clerk says

By Carlene Coombs - | Dec 8, 2023

Harrison Epstein, Daily Herald file photo

Ballots sit in the Utah County ballot center in Provo on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022.

The Utah County Clerk’s Office will be running recounts for both the Payson and Vineyard city council races due to state requirements on tight races in elections using ranked-choice voting, a method both cities used.

In a regular election, a recount can be requested by a losing candidate when the tallied votes are close, according to Utah’s election code. But in a ranked-choice race, a recount is automatically required in certain circumstances, even if it is not requested by a candidate.

In the case of both Vineyard and Payson, the need for a recount arose from the voting rounds for the first open city council seat, said Utah County Clerk Aaron Davidson.

In a ranked-choice election, voters rank candidates from their first to last preferences. Votes are tallied through a series of elimination rounds, with the candidate with the least amount of votes being eliminated and those votes being reallocated to the voters’ next choice. The process continues until a candidate has at least 50% of the votes.

In the case of Vineyard, which had two open seats, it took six elimination rounds to reach a winner for the first seat, Jacob Holdaway. In the third elimination round for that seat, the bottom two candidates were tied at 234 votes. Due to state law regarding ranked-choice voting, this triggers a recount, Davidson said.

In Payson, the issue came from two lower-ranked candidates being within one vote of each other in the fourth elimination round for the city’s first seat.

Davidson said he was first informed of the issue earlier this week by an employee in the election’s office. He later confirmed with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office that a recount was necessary per the Utah Code.

In the Vineyard election, Davidson said he doesn’t anticipate a recount to change the outcome and said that’s likely the same case for Payson. The recount will be completed on Monday, and the board of canvassers in the respective cities will vote to certify the results next week.

While stating his office would follow the state requirements and conduct the recount, Davidson expressed frustration about the process. He added the process itself is easy but “time consuming.”

Davidson added he would be speaking with lawmakers on the issue as the 2024 legislative session approaches in January.

Payson and Vineyard have been participating in the ranked-choice voting pilot program since 2019 after the program passed the Legislature in 2018.

In Payson, Ryan Rowley, Brian Hulet and Anne Moss were voted in for City Council. In Vineyard, Holdaway and Sara Cameron won the two open seats.


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