By Jared Oates
The Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center (a non-partisan, non-profit organization that promotes ranked voting) recently did an analysis of what it would cost to implement ranked voting in Utah. Here’s a summary of what they found:
Would Our Voting Machines Work for Ranked Choice Voting?
Utah could implement ranked voting using our current voting machines (Dominion’s TSX AccuVote). These machines can already accommodate ranked choice ballots and export the required cast vote record. The thing we still need is the software to conduct the round-by-round tabulation.
Do We Have the Software?
Utah would need to contract with a company to create that software. Standard procedure would call for the state to publish an RFP specifically asking for this service so that multiple companies could competitively bid for the opportunity. There are already companies that have expressed interest. Representatives from GradeCam, a software company with a development team in Utah, believe that they can adapt their software to meet the need. Caleb Kleppner, of MK Election Services, has also expressed interest in developing software for RCV in Utah. A reasonable estimate for this work would be between $25,000, and $50,000.
What Does It Take to Transition to Ranked Choice Voting?
The transition to ranked choice voting would involve some additional training and processes. Also, it could take additional time to tabulate the results. The time and complexity involved would be much less, however, than the cost of even one runoff election. A runoff election is the current solution whenever an election does not produce a winner with a clear majority of the votes.
At whatever point Utah replaces their current voting machines, there would not likely be any additional cost to simply include ranked voting support as a requirement for the new machines.The purchase of new voting equipment is already under serious consideration, with a voting system committee actively engaged in RFP development and with legislation (HB 16) spelling out requirements that include “voting equipment used in the state may include technology that allows for ranked-choice voting.”
You can read the full report here.