This year, you get to use approval voting for the Fargo Mayoral and City Commission races. That is, you have the freedom to vote for all the candidates you approve of, not just one or two.

Unfortunately, at this time you cannot use approval voting for the Fargo School Board—vote for up to 5—or Fargo Park Board—vote for up to 3—races.

It's simple.

Approval voting is dead simple. You still fill in ovals on your ballot—the only change is how many ovals you're allowed to fill out. Instead of being told to 'Vote for ONE name', you'll simply be told to 'Vote for ALL the names you approve of.'

Candidates receiving the most votes will still win, exactly as they always have.

It's flexible.

Only like one candidate?
Approve just that one.
Like several candidates?
Approve all of them.
Only know who you don't want?
Approve everyone else.
Worried your favorite doesn’t have a chance?
Approve your favorite plus a compromise or two.

Not only are all of these possibilities descriptive, they’re also completely valid ways to cast your ballot with approval voting—telling the government how you truly want an election to turn out is allowed.

Voters can still vote exactly the way they always used to vote in mayoral, commission, and municipal judge races without any change: no harm, no foul. Those who choose to take advantage of approval voting’s flexibility can do so without forcing any other voters to do it, too.

It's better.

If you want to support one candidate, you can safely do it now without worrying about the spoiler effect1 hurting other candidates you like—you can vote for all of them—protecting your interests while also giving each of them a more accurate measure of support.

It helps lower barriers to entry.

Barriers to entry don’t necessarily affect the winner of an election, but they do threaten the ability for alternative voices to be heard. Our current system can create these barriers by giving new candidates artificially low support—the consequence when voters fear voting their true preferences. This means that these other candidates don’t just lose—they lose big—making it seem like their ideas may never be popular enough to even discuss, let alone elect.

Approval voting allows you to vote your favorite and make your support for different candidates and ideas known without risking your own interests.

It tends to elect beats-all winners.

A beats-all winner is a candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a series of head-to-head races. Candidates with broad support across the ideological spectrum have a chance to win under approval voting instead of being squeezed out2 by more extreme candidates on either side, or simply acting as spoilers as they do now in our current system.

  1. The spoiler effect is the effect of vote splitting between candidates with similar ideologies.

  2. The center-squeeze effect is exhibited when a centrist candidate on the political spectrum is squeezed from both sides by other candidates who absorb the centrist's support, leaving the centrist, although broadly appealing, unable to effectively compete.