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Politics & Government

With Increased Skepticism Of Election Security, Is Now The Right Time To Experiment With Ranked-Choice Voting?

A photo of voters wearing face masks at voting stations.
Renee Bright
/
KUER
“It's very difficult to convince voters that moving votes after the election from one candidate to another is a trustworthy and safe process,” said Weber County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch.

More than 20 Utah cities are embarking on a journey to try a new form of voting this year: ranked-choice voting.

But some local officials are questioning whether now is the right time for election innovation, when the majority of Republicans voters across the country have doubts about the security of the 2020 presidential election.

Ranked-choice voting allows people to rank candidates in order of preference. If no one gets a majority of votes, the person with the fewest is eliminated. The process continues until there’s a winner.

Weber County Clerk/Auditor Ricky Hatch said with confidence in elections already so low, it would be even harder to convince people that this new method is fair and secure.

“It's very difficult to convince voters that moving votes after the election from one candidate to another is a trustworthy and safe process,” Hatch said. “If there was ever a time not to mess with the method of voting, this is a good year not to do that.”

He said it’s clear county clerks conduct fair and secure elections, but it’s also his responsibility to make sure the public also sees it that way.

The city of Nibley in Cache County decided to try out ranked choice voting this year. Mayor Shaun Dustin said he can’t let false statements about election fraud keep the city from using ranked-choice voting.

“I've got six kids and we learned really early on that when one of them is having a temper tantrum in the grocery store, you don't feed the fire,” Dustin said. “You just let it go. I feel the same way about [false allegations of voter fraud]. We have really important things that we need to worry about and this is not one of them.”

There’s no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. State and federal judges have struck down more than 50 lawsuits challenging the results.

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