Utah GOP Nominates US Representatives with IRV

On May 11, 2002, the Utah Republican Party nominated a candidate for US Representative and narrowed two large fields to two candidates who will appear on the primary election ballot on June 25, 2002.  Please scroll down for more information about these elections or check out the election results.

We believe this is the first use of instant runoff voting to nominate congressional candidates in over 70 years in the United States.

The Deseret News reported on the decision to use instant runoff voting for nominations and pointed out the beneficial impact this was having on campaign debate.

With 10 candidates for CD-1 and 12 in CD-2, the previous method of voting -- multiple ballots -- would have taken the 3,500 delegates literally hours to determine their nominees or primary candidates.  See below for more details about the ballot counting, which was done by hand and which apparently went smoothly, as well as results in the three races.  There were no exhausted ballots in the race with 3 candidates, and only 1% in the races with 10 and 12 candidates.

Utah GOP Elects to Use Instant Runoff Voting to Nominate Congressional Candidates

March 2002

On February 2, 2002, the Utah Republican Party adopted bylaws to use instant runoff voting to nominate candidates for US Congress at the May 11, 2002 state convention.  The 3,500 delegates will vote on nominations for Utah’s 3 Congressional seats.  The convention uses a 60% threshold for nomination, and if no candidate receives 60% in the instant runoff tally, the top two candidates square off in a primary election in June.

In addition, at least 4 counties -- Summit, Box Elder, Cache and Sevier -- will have used instant runoff voting for nominations at county conventions by May of this year.

This follows last year’s successful use of instant runoff voting to elect state party officers in August 2001 and to nominate a county commission at the Summit County Republican Party convention in April 2000.  We believe the Summit County nomination was the first public nomination using instant runoff voting by a major party in decades.

The motivation for using instant runoff voting in party conventions is simple.  With multiple candidates, under Robert’s Rules, there are essentially three options:  election by plurality, multiple balloting or instant runoff voting.  Robert’s Rules frowns on plurality voting because it can violate majority rule.  Multiple balloting in a large convention can take hours to conduct.  This can lead to large voter drop off and cause meetings to stretch until late at night.  Instant runoff voting combines the advantages of both:  election by a majority or higher threshold in a single election.

The use of instant runoff voting had particular value in this year’s Congressional nominations.  There are between 3 and 12 Republican candidates in the three races.  Instant runoff voting efficiently nominates a strong standard bearer or selects the two top candidates to appear in a primary election.  Without instant runoff voting, the delegates who happen to have the endurance to stay through the final rounds of balloting could decide such nominations.

For more information about these races, see a Salt Lake Tribune article along with a list of candidates.

For more information about the use of instant runoff voting in Utah, please contact Mike Ridgway, one of the principal advocates for instant runoff voting in the Utah Republican Party, by email or phone at 801-220-0166.

Results of the IRV nomination are now available.