Ranked Choice Voting Dies in Utah Senate Committee

It looked possible that Utah would become the second state to adopt ranked choice voting for statewide elections. However, HB349, the bill that got a surprising amount of bipartisan support in the House, died in a Senate committee because of a tie.

HB349, sponsored by State Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, would have ensured that primary and general elections were decided by an actual majority (over 50%) of the vote rather than just a plurality under the current choose-one voting method. Here is how ranked choice voting works:

In 2016, Maine became the first state to adopt ranked choice voting by ballot measure.

“I have heard from a number of voters who are frustrated with party-level election processes at the national level, and they apply that perception onto local elections, too,” said Rep. Chavez-Houck, in an interview for IVN. “They are looking to remedy frustrations with party leadership, but I would argue that adopting RCV might achieve fairness more effectively.”

Unfortunately, despite passing the Utah House, 59-12, Chavez-Houck’s bill failed to pass the state Senate’s Government Operations & Political Subdivisions Committee. The two Democrats on the committee and one Republican voted for it. Three Republicans voted against it. The remaining members of the committee didn’t vote.

Tied 3-3, HB349 abruptly died. Yet, proponents of the bill are reportedly optimistic that they can pass ranked choice voting next year. The question lingers, which state will be next to pass ranked choice voting, an increasingly popular election reform?