This story published in Five Thirty Eight is written by Nathaniel Rakich:
When voters head to the polls Tuesday to pick St. Louis’s next mayor, they’ll be faced with four names on the ballot. But unlike in most other elections, they won’t have to choose just one candidate to vote for. Instead, St. Louisans will experiment with a new form of voting that allows them to vote for as many candidates as they like.
In November, St. Louis voters passed Proposition D, which switched the city’s municipal elections to a nonpartisan “approval voting” system. The way it works is that voters can vote for as many candidates as they think would make a good mayor (or whatever office is up for election) and the two candidates with the most votes advance to a head-to-head general election. (In other variants of approval voting, the person with the most votes is simply named the winner after one round of voting.)
Like its better-known cousin, ranked-choice voting, approval voting is a popular proposal among election reformers looking to fix the flaws of our first-past-the-post electoral system (i.e., the election system you’re probably most used to: voters pick only one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of whether they get a majority). By allowing people to vote for multiple candidates, approval voting aims to remove the often zero-sum game of our politics, no longer forcing people to choose between a candidate they love who has little chance of winning and a more viable candidate about whom they are less enthusiastic. For this reason, proponents argue that approval voting gives a fairer shot to third parties. It also theoretically eliminates the problem of vote-splitting. For instance, St. Louis is a plurality-Black city, but it has had a white mayor for the last 20 years in part because Black candidates have split the vote in the city’s predominantly Black north side. But under approval voting, Black voters will be able to vote for as many Black (and non-Black) candidates as they want.
Read the full article here.