Approval Voting — Let’s Do It!

Image for post
Image for post

When voting day arrived on November 8, 2016, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were each sporting very high disapproval ratings. It felt very much like how an election is not supposed to be.

Arguably, most Americans wanted Independent candidate Bernie Sanders to become president, but he got eliminated in the highly controversial Democratic primary where it was widely claimed the DNC rigged it for Clinton. Clinton then lost to Trump in the general election where it was widely claimed Republicans purged voting rolls, via its Crosscheck voter elimination system, that was in play in around 30 states.

To make matter worse, once the primaries determined Democratic and Republican nominees, the national debates were rigged effectively shutting out the voice and hopes Green Party candidate Jill Stein (on the ballot in 48 states), and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson (on the ballot in 50 states).

End result?

Trump did to Clinton what Clinton did to Sanders, and both Stein and Johnson got screwed. An overwhelming percentage of the citizenry were unhappy with results from the 2016 presidential election. Two years later, most folks remain unhappy!

First, make voting easier for more people by automatically registering everyone at age 18. Technology for confirmation and crosscheck capability exists today? Frankly, it’s a crime on democracy not to do this.

Second, explore all options related to how, when and where to vote. Many new ideas are now being tried. They range from early voting, absentee voting through town or city hall, voting online or expansion of voting hours for congregated areas and so on. Perhaps the best idea is scrub Columbus Day and make voting day a national holiday.

Third, standardize either paper ballots or the equipment systems used for voting. It’s not only foolish but dangerous to keep a condition whereby a major political party donor owns the company that makes, distributes and sets up the tech control over voting machines. People, above all, need to trust their vote is properly counted!

Image for post
Image for post

Approval Voting is a very great idea. The present system shows strength only for a two-party system. Pretty much all other voices get shut out of the electoral process.

Approval voting concepts have been around and often used in organizations. The concept has recently been strongly advocated by Dr. Steven J. Brams, professor of politics at NYU and author of the book Mathematics and Democracy. It works as follows:

Rather than only voting for one candidate, under the present system, you vote your approval for two or more candidates. Each candidate approved of receives that vote. The candidate with the most overall votes wins the election.

Brams asserts Approval Voting eliminates the “wasted vote” effect, whereby you feel your vote won’t count if you select a third party candidate. So what happens alternatively is, in order to make your vote count, you end up reluctantly voting for one of the two major party candidates. In effect, you’re forced into the two-party, lesser of two evils, system of choice and you’re not getting to vote for your true choice candidate.

Gradually over time, Approval Voting would reduce the dominance and/or reliance of the two major political parties. Your second vote, most likely for an off-party candidate, would also send an important message to the winner. A strong off-party showing would become a guideline for the winner on how better to govern policy issues.

Approval voting would also spark incentive for greater citizen participation in politics.

Additional Consideration:

Written by

Founder of Climate Change Band; former NH State Rep; Supporter of Bernie Sanders & Standing Rock!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store