Ranked Choice Voting is my first choice

I am a local high school student who lives in Lehi. With the Lehi City Council deciding to take a vote on implementing Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), I decided to write this letter to maybe bring some publicity to the measure and to ranked choice voting in general. I think ranked choice voting is a better way to vote and I have done some research to highlight some of the pros and cons associated with it.

As the name implies, Ranked Choice Voting allows a voter to rank candidates in order of their approval rather than just vote for one candidate. The number one ranked votes are counted first. If no majority is established after this first round then the candidate with the least votes is eliminated and that candidate's voters second choices are counted. This continues until a majority is established by a candidate.

This move is easy to implement because it is supported by the vote counting machines that we use here in Utah County already. The ballot is a little bit more complicated. The presentation in front of the Lehi City Council echoes this and much more information on RCV.

The cities of Payson and Vineyard recently used RCV and highlighted in the previously mentioned presentation was how voters prefer RCV. A poll taken on the 2019 ballot for Payson and Vineyard showed that 82.5% of voters believed RCV should be used in future elections and 86% of voters said it was very much or somewhat easy to use. This kind of data shows that Utah voters prefer RCV.

So with the preference by voters to use RCV, what reasons are there? Many.

The main reason for implementing RCV is limiting the spoiler effect. The spoiler effect is what can happen if a few similar candidates all run, they split the voters that they appeal to between them and someone else who the majority of voters would not like to win. Data compiled by fairvote.org shows the races using RCV that the candidate with the most first-round votes ended up losing after subsequent rounds because of not wide enough support. This effect wastes a lot of votes and can lead to an undemocratic outcome. With RCV, the candidate with the widest and deepest support wins, even if they are the second choice of another similar politician's first-choice voters.

Another benefit of RCV is less hate speech because you are always trying to get another candidate's second vote. In the 2020 study, Effect of Instant Run-off Voting on Participation and Civility, hate speech was shown to decrease. Numerous polls as well in areas using RCV have shown that campaigns use less hate speech.

The same study showed that voter turnout increased by an average of 9% after Minneapolis implemented RCV.

RCV also allows cities to save money by being able to combine general and primary elections into one.

And that's my perspective.

-- Joshua Cox, Lehi

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