The voting system that almost all official elections in the US use, both for State and Federal offices, is called Plurality Voting. In Plurality Voting, a voter must vote against all the candidates except one. Approval Voting removes the restriction on how many of the candidates running the voter may vote against. When a voter votes for a candidate, we say the voter gives that candidate an “approval”. Otherwise, we say the voter withholds approval from that candidate. Those are the only possibilities. The candidate who receives approvals from the highest count of the voters, wins the election.
- Basic cartoon video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCWjioIlVis
- Postcard by Steven Cobb http://www.electology.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/ApprovalVotingCard5.5×8.5Distribute.pdf
- How Does Approval Voting Work? http://ivn.us/2013/10/18/approval-voting-work/
IRV Not Good Enough
Quoting Clay Shentrup ( http://fyre.it/K9BkEn.4 ):
Approval Voting has numerous advantages over IRV. IRV can punish you for voting for your favorite candidate, whereas Approval Voting cannot.
With IRV, your first choice vote only transfers to your second choice if your second choice outlasts your first choice. If your second choice is eliminated before your first choice, then IRV completely ignores that second rank vote.
Here’s a good comparison.
Here’s an example of the horrendously insane behavior of IRV, written by a Princeton math PhD who’s arguably the world’s foremost expert on election methods.
- Duopoly Must Go: An Appeal for Score Voting http://asitoughttobe.com/2010/07/18/score-voting/
- IRV Degrades to Plurality http://www.electology.org/irv-plurality
- Why IRV is a poor choice for independents and third parties http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDzYRDTVRS8
- Favorite Betrayal in Plurality and Instant Runoff Voting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtKAScORevQ
- Approval Voting sometimes gets confused with other voting methods. Let’s clear up some of that confusion. http://www.electology.org/systems-confused-approval-voting
- “Follow-Up Interview with Occupy Wall Street’s TJ Frawls”, the should-be-famous New York poll, http://www.electology.org/interview-with-tj-frawls-2 . “From Plurality to Approval, Stein jumps from 3.2 % support to 51.9% support.”
- “Taking the Fear Out of Voting” http://bigthink.com/action-in-action/are-you-afraid-to-vote
- Vote Splitting http://www.electology.org/vote-splitting
- Taking the Fear Out of Voting http://bigthink.com/action-in-action/are-you-afraid-to-vote?page=all
- Why Is Plurality Voting So Bad, and What Can We Do About It? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjR-GP89i4o
- Approval Voting: A Voice for Independents http://ivn.us/2012/04/16/approval-voting-a-voice-for-independents/
- What is Duverger’s Law? http://www.electology.org/duvergers-law
- Approval voting [weakens the grip of] Duverger’s Law http://is.gd/ej7fBe
- Egypt Didn’t Want This http://is.gd/oQnyUN
- Is Our Centuries-Old Ballot Out of Date? http://tncp.net/Articles/tabid/1800/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/3395/Is-Our-CenturiesOld-Ballot-Out-of-Date.aspx
- Austin, Texas used Approval Voting to decide among changes, or no change, to their political structure http://www.austinpost.org/austin-news/winner-approval-voting
- Student government of University of Colorado Boulder http://www.colorado.edu/news/features/your-student-government-cusg-fall-elections-and-approval-voting
The Oregon Effort
As of 2013, there is a drive in Oregon for a ballot initiative to put in place a two-stage voting system in which the first stage would use Approval Voting and the second stage would be a runoff between the top two approval-getters from the first stage. Both stages would be open to residents regardless of party. There would be some time between the stages and voters could hear more from the top candidates and rethink their decision. These articles have comment sections and I have weighed in, arguing against every naysayer (there was a while when I was conveying some reservations, but I believe I was mistaken in doing so and now I am in full support).
- Dave Frohnmayer’s son proposes radical change in Oregon primary system http://www.oregonlive.com/mapes/index.ssf/2013/10/dave_frohnmayers_son_proposes.html
- Effort To Change The Primary Voting System http://www.eugeneweekly.com/20131212/news-briefs/effort-change-primary-voting-system
- Bring Approval Voting to Oregon http://leastevil.blogspot.com/2013/12/bring-approval-voting-to-oregon.html
- The Unified Primary: A New Way to Conduct Nonpartisan Elections http://ivn.us/2014/01/03/unified-primary-new-way-conduct-nonpartisan-elections
Why Changing the Voting System Is Even More Important Than Reversing Citizens United
. . . the inordinate importance of cash in elections is largely a product of the need to prove electability. Consider exit polling from 2000 in which 90% of Nader supporters claimed to have voted for someone other than Nader. This shows that the number of votes Nader could have received by convincing voters he could be elected (e.g. by having an enormous campaign “warchest” and/or getting the nomination of a major party) was nine times as large as the number of votes he won by trying his best to convince voters he should be elected. Also consider that in the 2008 US presidential election, Mitt Romney spent large amounts of cash from his personal fortune to bus in voters to straw polls with no legal consequence whatsoever, apparently in order to be seen early on as a frontrunner, so as not to be abandoned by tactical voters, who fear wasting their vote on candidates who can’t win.
These may seem like anecdotes, but their prevalence amounts to something greater. Money matters far too much in today’s political process. And efforts to curb that with typical campaign finance reform are inherently unstable, as cheaters will be more likely to win elections, and then just make their cheating retroactively legal, and/or intimidate government officials who dare to try to prosecute them. We believe it may be more effective to try to reduce the inherent importance of cash, than to wage a potentially futile battle to level the playing field. With score and approval voting, a candidate need not prove his electability in order to earn your vote.