Posted by Ashley Houghton on May 11, 2021 at 11:12 AM

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Big Wins for Ranked Choice Voting In Utah and Virginia

23 Utah Cities Embrace Ranked Choice Voting for 2021 Elections

Virginia GOP Successfully Use Ranked Choice Voting to Elect Glenn Youngkin As Republican Nominee for Governor

May 11, 2021 - The ranked choice voting movement witnessed major strides in the last 24 hours in both Utah and Virginia. 

A record 23 cities in Utah passed ranked choice voting ordinances for elections in 2021, more than doubling the number of elections that will allow voters to rank mayoral candidates. Altogether, with these added cities, 53 jurisdictions are projected to use RCV in upcoming elections. The 23 Utah cities, which includes Salt Lake City (population 200,000), each voted to adopt ranked choice voting specifically for municipal elections in the fall of 2021. Those cities will vote each year to continue using ranked choice voting. 

In Virginia, the Republican party successfully used RCV to elect a nominee for governor; after six rounds, Glenn Youngkin beat out Pete Snyder with 55% of the vote. Youngkin took an early 7-point lead, and gradually expanded that lead throughout the rounds of tabulation as he earned 2nd-choice and 3rd-choice support from delegates who originally supported his opponents. Notably, even though third-place finisher Amanda Chase encouraged her supporters not to rank other candidates, 74% of her supporters ranked at least one of the two finalists and had their ballots count towards the final round. Fully 99.9% of delegate cast valid gubernatorial votes.

“This is a substantial victory for everyone who wants fairer outcomes from our elections,” shared Rob Richie, CEO and President of FairVote, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for better elections. “No matter who you are or what you believe, you deserve elections that represent you fully. More and more Americans across the political spectrum are realizing that ranked choice voting improves elections and can help them be heard.”

“Conservatives don’t embrace electoral reforms haphazardly; this was a common sense decision for Virginian Republicans.” added Eric Wilson, a Virginia GOP delegate and Director of the Center for Campaign Innovation, a non-profit research and training center guiding conservatives through the digital transformation of politics. “Ranked choice voting requires candidates to build both a strong base of support and broader appeal across the party, ensuring whoever emerges from the primaries has the broadest support. As a result, ranked choice voting helps us select the candidate most capable of winning the general election.”

“Good governance starts locally, which is why we’re thrilled so many Utah cities have embraced ranked choice voting,” shared Stan Lockhart, former Chair of the Utah Republican Party and advocate with Utah Ranked Choice Voting. “This will be an opportunity for Utahns to test out ranked choice voting ballots for themselves, and we’re confident that Utahns will appreciate being offered back-up choices in the ballot box.”

Notably, Utah Republicans also embraced ranked choice voting in their convention last year. A survey of delegates found that 90% of respondents were “Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied” with the ranked choice voting process, with one anonymous respondent adding “Ranked choice voting is such a no-brainer...I only wish we could also have ranked choice on the general election ballots.” Thanks to local Utah city councils and ranked choice advocates, that delegate is more likely to have that opportunity this fall.


FairVote is a nonpartisan organization seeking better elections for all. We research and advance voting reforms that make democracy more functional and representative for every voter.


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