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Utah Cities Abandon Plans To Adopt New Voting Method

Some Utah cities have backed away from plans to adopt a new voting method in upcoming elections.

At least half of the six municipalities that planned to use ranked-choice voting this year have dropped the initiative because of complications with implementation and voter education, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday.

In a vote Tuesday, the northern Utah community of Lehi joined Cottonwood Heights and West Jordan in deciding to withdraw from the project, with other municipal governments set to vote soon, the newspaper reported.

The system allows voters to rank preferences among all candidates in a general election rather than choosing from the survivors of party primaries. The system could decrease apathy by making voters feel their selections matter more, while also saving money used for primaries, according to advocates.

An amendment to the bill that took effect Wednesday allows cities to use the new method for a primary followed by a traditional general election, but there is still hesitation, the newspaper reported.

Machines in 21 of Utah's 29 counties could implement ranked choice voting with software upgrades, according to the newspaper. The Tribune said Salt Lake County contracts with cities within its boundaries, but its voting machines do not yet accommodate ranked-choice voting.

Cottonwood Heights is conceptually supportive of ranked-choice voting and wants to implement it through the Salt Lake County Clerk's office, Mayor Mike Peterson said.

"It's a good direction, and we'll be excited when we're able to implement it in the future," Peterson said.