© 2024 KPCW

Spencer F. Eccles Broadcast Center
PO Box 1372 | 460 Swede Alley
Park City | UT | 84060
Office: (435) 649-9004 | Studio: (435) 655-8255

Music & Artist Inquiries: music@kpcw.org
News Tips & Press Releases: news@kpcw.org
Volunteer Opportunities
General Inquiries: info@kpcw.org
Listen Like a Local Park City & Heber City Summit & Wasatch counties, Utah
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Park City considers ranked choice voting for 2025 election

A ballot drop box outside City Hall.
Parker Malatesta
A ballot drop box outside City Hall.

Park City is studying ranked choice voting ahead of next year’s election for mayor and two city council seats.

In 2018 former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill establishing a pilot program for cities to try ranked choice voting. It’s an electoral system where voters rank candidates by preference.

Former Utah County Clerk Josh Daniels, now a ranked choice voting advocate, encouraged the Park City Council to try the new system at a meeting Tuesday. He said the benefits include pushing candidates to appeal to a broader audience and eliminating the cost of running a primary election.

“The thing that’s really important here is that rather than somebody winning just because they got the most votes, you really are seeking consensus among the entire electorate or group of participants, and trying to find a majority by doing this sort of instant runoff,” Daniels said.

Heber City has used ranked choice voting since 2021.

Park City Recorder Michelle Kellogg, a Heber resident who voted by ranked choice in 2023, expressed some concerns.

“There’s a learning curve with every new election system,” Kellogg said. “I think RCV is pretty easy if you read the instructions, but voters will fill out the ballot wrong. In talking with the Heber City recorder, several ballots were disqualified.”

She worries about special interest groups on social media spreading disinformation about voting tactics.

There was enough support on the Park City Council to discuss ranked choice voting again at a later date. Councilmember Ryan Dickey passionately expressed support for trying it out.

“Ranked choice voting is this little miracle,” Dickey said. “Politicians never want to change the system that got them elected, and yet only politicians can change the system of voting. Now, in this case, the politicians change the system of voting for everyone but them. So it’s sort of a little miracle, not a big miracle. The Legislature doesn’t do it for themselves, but they let us pilot it.”

Councilmember Jeremy Rubell said he was interested in proportional voting, which is dominant in western Europe and not yet authorized in Utah.

New council members Ed Parigian and Bill Ciraco inquired about a referendum asking voters their preferred method. City attorney Margaret Plane said any referendum would be non-binding, but it could give the council a sense of public support.

If the city council wants to try ranked choice voting next year, the Lieutenant Governor’s office will have to be notified by May 1, 2025.