Our current method of voting is the least constructive method of voting and the most common.
Often, voters are frustrated by the choices presented to them during elections. Because many recognize that voting sincerely often risks receiving a worse result in the end, they are compelled to vote for "the lesser of two evils" even though their preferences lie among other candidates. This problem leads to voter disgust, discouragement, and disenfranchisement.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to mitigate this problem?
The solution the task force recommends is called approval voting.
You've used it countless times without realizing it.
Whenever you've tried to coordinate a time to meet or what to do with a group, one thing you probably haven't done is say "Everyone gets to propose one and only one option each." What you've probably done, instead, is request that "Everyone throw in a few options." You then counted up the support for each option and determined which one had the most, choosing it above the others. This process, in a nutshell, is approval voting.
In practice, approval voting will be very familiar to voters. They'll still fill in ovals on their ballots; the only change is how many ovals they'll be allowed to fill out. Instead of being told to 'Vote for one' voters will simply be told to 'Vote for one or more.'
Candidates receiving the most votes will still win, exactly as they do today.
- 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 expressive, but they’re also completely valid ways to cast your ballot with approval voting—expressing how you truly feel is allowed.
It reverts to our current system seamlessly.
Voters can still vote exactly the way they currently vote in mayoral and commission races without any change: no harm, no foul. Those who choose to take advantage of approval voting’s expressiveness can do so without forcing any other voters to do it, too.
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 mitigates the spoiler effect.
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 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.
It's absolutely compatible with our existing election equipment.
Our current voting equipment has been confirmed to be compatible with approval voting by both Cass County Auditor Mike Montplaisir and North Dakota Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum.