Was Approval Voting on the ballot in any city, state or municipality in the US? No. Is Approval Voting currently the system being used in any of the above? No. Was it pertinent to this year’s election? No. So why did they call a special meeting to talk about it?
The meeting was called because a movement needs a voice and a voice needs an audience. Approval voting is being presented to the State of Colorado’s officials. The request is to allow the smaller municipalities and entity’s the ability to implement this type of voting.
Approval Voting is a process where you would have the ability to vote for more than one candidate. Why would anyone want to vote for more than one candidate?
In the case of the recent presidential election it may have given the independents a fighting chance all around without the ‘spoiler effect’ taking votes away from one of the other candidates such as what happened in the state of Utah.
Utah declared, for the first time since 1946, that they would reject Trump and vote Democrat in the presidential race, so what happened? Trump won Utah even though many did not vote for him. Voters chose to vote for the independent, Evan McMullin, taking 21% of the votes away from Clinton. Had those same votes gone to Clinton (In our present election process you can only choose one candidate.) she would have easily taken the State of Utah. Clinton received 29% of the votes, Trump received 45%. Had Clinton secured the 21% that went to McMullin she would have won with 50% of the votes.
Flip that around to the other states who mostly voted Democrat or Republican and the Independents, Libertarians and/or Green candidates took 2-4% of the votes. In narrow margins that would have made all the difference. In some states such as Pennsylvania where Clinton lost by a 1% margin, had the independent votes gone to Clinton she would have won by a 1% margin instead; that’s the spoiler effect with our present system.
Had approval voting been the system Utah voters could have voted for Clinton and McMullin. There’s no guarantee the independent would have won but those votes that would have normally gone to just one person would have gone to two and Clinton would have won the state with the additional 21% of the votes. The independent could have also won. Those voting for either Clinton or Trump, had they had another vote, may have voted the McMullin also raising his percentage to well above the 45% that Trump secured, therefore giving McMullin the additional percentages which may have giving him enough votes to win the state.
Example with one vote allowed: Three candidates, Clinton, Trump and McMullin. 100% of the votes. If they were split completely even all candidates can only receive one third of the votes; giving each candidate 33.33%.
Example with more than one vote allowed: You could have voted Clinton or Trump and McMullin. This would have given Trump 33%, Clinton 33% and McMullin 66% or more which would have won the state of Utah for the independent.
What about the issues Americans feel need attention? That’s where approval voting has the biggest benefit. Your votes can approve more than one candidate. If you could approve or vote for more than one candidate, you would naturally vote for the candidate that best represent the issues that are important to you. With approval voting you can ‘approve’ all candidates that support those issues. If you favorite candidate doesn’t win then at least you have a fighting chance that the candidate who did win will still take care of those same issues. Approval voting can make elections more about issues than personality.
Approval voting may not be in use anywhere today but it gives the ‘unhappy with the election result’ voters something to think about for the future elections. In this past election, many of the voters who would have normally voted Democrat either flipped their votes or didn’t vote at all because they didn’t want to be part of the spoiler effect. Had approval voting been an option many who didn’t vote may have and we may be seeing a different America today.
For more information on Approval Voting visit the Center for Election Science at https://electology.org/approval-voting.