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What to know about Heber City ranked choice voting in 2023 election

Heber City will use ranked choice voting in its city council election Nov. 21.

Eleven candidates are vying for three seats on the Heber City Council in November’s election: Tori Broughton, Aaron Cheatwood, Jami Hewlett, Danny Hill, Vaughn Eric Hokanson, Mike Johnston, Nick López, Sid Ostergaard, Casey Powers, Paul Royall, and Christen Thompson.

Voters will rank candidates in order of preference, an effort to streamline the election process and eliminate the need for a primary election. Heber City tried ranked choice voting for the first time in 2021, and the council voted to continue using the system this year.

Kelleen Potter, executive director of Utah Ranked Choice Voting, said she sees plenty of advantages to the system.

“It’s still one person, one vote,” she said. “But it’s sometimes called instant runoff voting, where we see some states where they have an instant runoff if nobody gets 50%. This is essentially the same thing, without having the extra time and cost of having to bring everyone back, where you often see a lower turnout.”

Potter said this method helps save costs, streamline the election process and reduce voter fatigue. She also said the ranked choice system makes the environment of elections more positive overall.

“Probably one of my favorite things about it – and one of the reasons I’m so passionate about it – is it kind of trains candidates to be a little bit different in the process,” she said.

“We start finding common ground,” she added. “It’s sort of training candidates and voters to start looking for solutions and ways that they have things in common instead of this divisive, all-or-nothing, win-or-lose environment that we find ourselves in in this country right now.”

Voters can rank as many candidates as they like. Potter said the system has about the same error rate as the traditional method of voting for a single candidate.

Residents can learn more about the city council candidates at a meet-and-greet hosted by the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce, scheduled for Oct. 24. At the chamber lunch, all candidates from Midway and Heber City will introduce themselves and share why they’re running for office.