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Politics & Government

Rep. Mike Winder ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ About Sponsoring A Bill To Use Ranked-Choice Voting In Statewide Elections

Photo of ballot envelope.
Renee Bright / KUER
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Utah’s ranked-choice voting experiment is about to massively expand this year as 23 cities will use the method in their nonpartisan elections.

Utah’s ranked-choice voting experiment is about to massively expand this year as 23 cities will use the method in their nonpartisan elections. Ranked-choice voting lets voters choose candidates in order of preference.

Since the pilot program started in 2018, just two cities have tried out the method.

Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, is hoping that experiment will pay off. He wants to resurrect legislation to bring ranked-choice voting to some statewide elections.

Winder sponsored a bill earlier this year that would have brought the method to statewide primary elections.

“We decided in talking with the governor's office and leadership to put that on hold for a bit and let's see how this municipal ranked-choice voting experiment plays out through this election year,” he said. “I'm cautiously optimistic that it's going to be a phenomenal success.”

Winder said he’s not sure yet which statewide elections the next iteration of his bill would cover.

While Winder may be “cautiously optimistic,” the proposal faces several security and logistical concerns, according to state elections director Justin Lee, because the state would have to count all the votes instead of individual counties.

“We would have to get all of that data to a central location, such as the lieutenant governor's office,” Lee said. “As soon as we have to transmit voting data electronically over the Internet, that introduces a new risk factor.”

Lee said one work around could be driving flash drives with the ballot information from across the state to the Capitol. That would be more secure but make the counting process much longer.

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