What's the problem?

Seattle primary elections use an outdated voting method: every voter is allowed to select exactly one candidate. In reality, many voters are actually supportive of several candidates, and in these cases our system does a poor job of honoring their true preferences.

In 2019, some candidates won primaries with less than 35% of votes. That means 3 out of 5 voters preferred a different candidate. In 2021, we had 15 candidates in the running for mayor.

The Solution

Approval Voting would mean you give a thumbs up to each candidate you support:

Example of our current ballot vs an Approval Voting ballot

As always, the candidate with the most votes wins. It’s that simple.

Like several candidates?
Approve them all.

Only like one candidate?
Approve just that one.

Only know who you don’t want?
Approve everyone else.

Worried that your favorite doesn’t have a chance?
Approve your favorite plus a few more you like.

Why is this better?

Approval Voting ballots contain more information about your preferences, and as a result you are more likely to be satisfied with the winner.

  • As a voter, you will no longer have to choose between a front-runner and your honest favorite candidate.
  • We are currently stuck in a two party system. With Approval Voting, voting third-party will never mean throwing your vote away.
  • Similar candidates will no longer “split the vote” and both lose.
  • Politics will be less divisive because campaigns won’t fight each other over voters — they’ll fight for a wider base of support.
  • It’s simple, without requiring voters to rank candidates. It also satisfies more voters than ranked ballots, and has many other comparative advantages.

Usually we have to choose two between “simple”, “effective”, and “affordable”. Approval voting is all three.

No one implementing an election today would choose the system we use. That’s why St. Louis, MO recently adopted Approval Voting with broad support from the city’s largest newspaper, elected officials, and The League of Women Voters. We can be next.

watch how approval voting
improves elections

Our Plan

Here’s how we’ll bring Approval Voting to Seattle City Council and Mayoral primary elections:

  1. Approval voting requires passing an initiative in the City of Seattle (learn more).
  2. To put an initiative on the ballot, we’ll need to collect signatures from about 22,000 voters in 180 days. This can be a combination of volunteer signature-gatherers, paid signature-gatherers, and voters discovering the campaign from media coverage and supporters.

    All of these depend on Seattle Approves getting good at succinctly explaining the problem and the solution.

  3. A key decision is when to launch a campaign. The more we learn before launching an initiative, the higher our chances of succeeding. The next big decision will be in late 2021: is a 2022 campaign realistic?


So, how do we make progress right now?

Our short-term goal is simple: get a meaningful number of people involved – about 1,000 Seattle voters – on an email mailing list and starting to collaborate. Please join below

Also consider joining our Discord chat.

let's bring better elections
to seattle.

PO Box 85694, Seattle, WA 98145

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For inquiries, please email.