Voting Systems

Our current choose-one, Winner-Take-All voting system is the single largest contributing factor to why we've ended up in a two-party system that everyone hates. Fortunately, Winner-Take-All (WTA) is not the only way to vote. There are dozens of different voting systems to choose from. If you ask a voting scientist today which voting system they would recommend fighting to get the United States to switch to right now, they would likely either tell you about Approval Voting or STAR Voting, if not both. And that's for good reason.
Approval Voting is comically simple. It's simply changing the language on your ballot from "Choose one." to "Choose one or more." This means that instead of bubbling in next to just one candidate, you're free to bubble in next to as many candidates as you like, or rather all the candidates you "approve" of. This one simple change has dramatic positive effects on election results that almost completely eliminates the "spoiler effect" where voting for a candidate you like can help out a candidate you dislike, allowing you to vote for who you want without regret. The real power of Approval Voting is its simplicity. Because it's fully compatible with existing electoral infrastructure throughout the country, the only real financial cost to shifting to Approval Voting is voter education, which can be done rapidly and cheaply. Additionally, Approval Voting is compatible with far more existing election codes across the states than other alternative voting systems. These last two points make Approval Voting viable to adopt for jurisdictions anywhere and of any size. Also, Approval Voting is compatible with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which is currently our only real path to dealing with a hastily designed Presidential electoral process that doesn't deliver on any of the promises it makes. I like to describe Approval Voting as the fastest and highest return on investment of any voting system shift in the United Stated right now.

STAR is an acronym for Score Then Automatic Runoff. It's a little more complex than Approval Voting, so it's helpful to have a visual, but I'll still describe it here. Under STAR Voting, on your ballot, you would score every candidate on a 0-5 Star scale. Then, the two candidates with the highest scores move on to an automatic runoff round (meaning you do not have to vote again). Whichever of those two candidates you scored higher gets your one full vote. Whichever of those two candidates gets the most of those votes wins! This process produces unbelievably accurate results and there's a ton of fantastic math, research, and simulation that goes into that determination. I like to describe STAR Voting as the ultimate culmination of modern voting science. However, we live in the real world and shifting to STAR Voting can be a bit tricky, namely that it would require upending voting infrastructure in small jurisdictions that don't have a lot of money to spend on major electoral system changes. Regardless, STAR Voting is still worth pursuing across the country alongside Approval Voting.

This is all just a tiny bite-sized bit of information about voting systems, but I hope I've piqued your interest and that you want to learn more. You'll be seeing a lot more on this site and hearing a lot more from me about voting systems as this campaign continues.

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