Will Fargo Be the First in the Nation to Adopt Approval Voting?

The city commission of Fargo, North Dakota is currently considering a proposal that would dump the choose-one voting method used in a majority of cities and states across the U.S. and adopt approval voting for city elections. Fargo has an opportunity to make history as the first jurisdiction in the nation to use approval voting.

Here is a quick explanation of how approval voting works:

Video Credit: The Center for Election Science

“People are seeing the faults of plurality voting—far and away the worst voting single-winner voting method. And through that knowledge, they’re motivated to experiment,” said Aaron Hamlin, executive director of The Center for Election Science.

The Center for Election Science is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization “dedicated to helping the world use smarter election systems.” The organization heavily pushes approval voting as one of the simplest of the better voting methods out there.

Hamlin explains:

“Approval voting gives you a reason to vote again. Part of why some think of voting as being a kind of sham is because the quality of the current choose-one plurality voting method is so poor. With approval voting, however, you can fearlessly support the candidates you really like without wasting your vote. And with the spoiler fear removed, new candidates you otherwise wouldn’t have seen can run. In a nutshell, you get more competitive and exciting elections where good ideas can thrive.

Fargo could be the first city in the nation to adopt approval voting if the city commission puts it to a vote in 2018. However, according to supporters, similar proposals are being explored in states like Texas, Oregon, Nebraska, Virginia, and other places.

“As more people learn about approval voting, heightened interest inevitably follows,” said Hamlin. He added that in states across the country, key stakeholders in these reform efforts have reached out to his organization for technical guidance on moving forward.

The election task force in Fargo told commission members Monday night that the city’s election equipment can easily make the switch to approval voting with little cost. Commissioners are expected to decide by May 1 whether or not they will put the reform to a vote in the June 2018 election.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons