Electoral Reform in Utah
2017 Ranked-Choice Voting Bill
In 2017 Utah Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City) sponsored HB0349, a bill that would require the use of Ranked-Choice Voting in all primary and municipal elections in Utah. It enjoyed wide bipartisan support, passing out of committee with 8-1 approval, and passing the House 59-12, including support from House Speaker Brad Wilson and nearly 75% of House Republicans. It then moved to the Senate with floor sponsor Lyle Hillyard (R-Logan) where it stalled in committee with a tie vote of 3-3.
2018 Ranked-Choice Voting Pilot Bill
In 2018 Utah Representative Marc Roberts (R-Santaquin) sponsored HB0035, a bill that would begin a pilot program allowing Utah municipal elections to be conducted using Ranked-Choice Voting. This bill originally included Approval Voting as an additional voting method option, but this language was removed in committee. The bill passed through the House Government Operations Committee 7-1 and then passed the full House 64-2. It then moved to the Utah Senate with floor sponsor Howard Stephenson (R-Draper) where it passed through committee 7-0 and finally the full Senate 22-0.
2021 Approval/STAR Voting Pilot Bill Amendment
In 2021, Utah Representative Adam Robertson (R-Provo) sponsored a bill that would add Approval and STAR voting methods as options to the 2018 pilot program. The Utah Center for Electoral Reform partnered with Utah Approves and various other Utah organizations in favor of election reform to advocate for this bill. Unfortunately, at the last minute the bill was sent to the House Political Subdivisions Committee instead of the House Government Operations Committee which our coalition had been working with for months. In order to simplify the bill for this new committee who had not previously heard of other voting alternatives besides RCV, the section adding STAR voting to the pilot program was removed, leaving just the provision adding Approval Voting. Despite this, the committee voted 6-4 to hold the bill, effectively killing it until next session. Comments in opposition to the bill largely centered on a lack of understanding of Approval Voting or a general dislike of the municipal alternative voting pilot program in general.
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