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Sherrie Swensen

Sherrie Swensen

Salt Lake County Clerk

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Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a type of ranked preferential voting. The Utah State Legislature made RCV possible for municipal elections in Utah with the passing of HB 35, the Municipal Alternative Voting Methods Pilot Project.

Several municipal legislative bodies (councils/mayors) in Salt Lake County have opted to hold ranked choice elections for 2021.

What is Ranked Choice Voting?

According to Ballotpedia:

A ranked-choice voting system is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, he or she is declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. First-preference votes cast for the failed candidate are eliminated, lifting the second-preference choices indicated on those ballots. A new tally is conducted to determine whether any candidate has won a majority of the adjusted votes. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

To learn more about how RCV will work in Salt Lake County, please review the resources below.

RCV Resources

How do I fill out my ballot in Ranked Choice Voting?

In ranked choice voting contests, the names of candidates are listed on the left side of the ballot, with ranked choices along the top. A grid of ovals is to the right of candidate names. This is where you will mark your choices.

Voters can rank all candidates in a contest using the columns on the ballot to indicate their choices. Voters may rank as many or as few candidates as they like. If a voter doesn’t wish to rank some of the candidates, they can leave any remaining columns blank. However, voters are encouraged to rank their choices in case their most preferred candidates are phased out.

To rank candidates on the ballot, fill in the oval that corresponds to your choice:

  • In the first column for your first choice,
  • In the second column for your second choice,
  • In the third column for your third choice, and so on.

Example of ranked choice voting ballot contest

Mark your RCV ballot by filling in one oval for each candidate Correct! All choices must be different.
Don't fill in more than one oval per column Incorrect. Don't fill-in more than one oval per column
Don't fill in more than one ranking for each candidate Incorrect. Don't choose the same candidate more than once.

Download a printable practice ballot here.

How are my choices counted?

In Phase 1 of ranked choice tabulation (vote counting), all first-choice votes are counted. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the votes, they win. If no candidate earns more than 50% of first-choice votes, the counting moves to Phase 2.

After each phase, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. If your highest-ranked candidate is eliminated, your vote goes to the next highest ranked candidate on your ballot.

The tabulation process continues through as many phases as necessary to choose a winner. Once there are only two candidates left, the candidate with greater than 50% of the votes is the winner.

It’s important to remember that your vote for your second-choice candidate is only counted if your first choice is eliminated. If both your first and second choices are eliminated, your vote is counted for your next choice, and so on.

Watch this video to learn more.

Which elections are using ranked choice voting?

Several municipal legislative bodies (councils/mayors) in Salt Lake County have opted to hold ranked choice elections for 2021. In races where enough candidates have filed for office, a ranked choice election will be held. The list of ranked choice elections is below.

Municipality Race
Bluffdale City Council At-Large (2 Seats)
Cottonwood Heights Mayor
Cottonwood Heights City Council District 3
Cottonwood Heights City Council District 4
Draper City Council At-Large (2 Seats)
Midvale Mayor
Millcreek City Council District 2
Millcreek City Council District 4
Salt Lake City City Council District 1
Salt Lake City City Council District 2
Salt Lake City City Council District 3
Salt Lake City City Council District 5
Salt Lake City City Council District 7
Sandy Mayor
Sandy City Council At-Large
Sandy City Council District 1
Sandy City Council District 3
South Salt Lake Mayor
Magna Metro Township Town Council District 2
Helpful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to rank all candidates?
No. You may rank as many candidates as there are in a race. If you do not want to rank some candidates, feel free to leave columns blank.
 
If I rank other candidates, does it affect my first choice?
No. Ranking other candidates does not affect your first choice. Only your first choice is counted in Phase 1. Your second, third, fourth, and other choices will be considered only if your first-choice candidate does not win.
 
How can my first choice be eliminated?
If no candidate receives more than 50% of first-choice votes, the last-place candidate is eliminated. If your first choice is eliminated as a result, your next choice will be counted, and so on. The process of elimination continues until there is a winner.
 
If I really want my first-choice candidate to win, should I rank the candidate as my first, second, and third choice, and so on?
No. Your vote can count only once for your first choice. If you rank the same candidate first, second, and third, it is the same as leaving the second and third choices blank.
 
Can I give multiple candidates the same ranking?
No. If you give multiple candidates the same ranking, this is called an “over-vote”. Your vote in that rank and later ranks cannot be counted.

What if I have more questions?
If you have further questions about ranked-choice voting, contact the Salt Lake County Election Division at 385-468-7400 or got-vote@slco.org

Elections Menu

Salt Lake County Clerk
Election Division

2001 S State Street, #S1-200
PO Box 144575
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4575

Office Hours
8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday
Closed on official Utah state holidays and weekends.

Phone:
385-got-vote (385-468-8683)

Fax:
385-468-7365

Social Media:
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Email:
got-vote@slco.org

Web:
www.got-vote.org