APPROVAL VOTING FAQ
SIMPLE. FLEXIBLE. BETTER.
Approval Voting is a voting method that allows voters to vote for as many candidates as they approve of, not just one candidate.
Today, Seattle allows voters to choose only one candidate. Instead of saying “Vote for one,” ballots will say “Vote for one or more” or “Vote for as many as you approve of.”
Watch how this works:
Unfortunately, the election method that Seattle uses for primaries (known as “First Past The Post” or FPTP) is widely considered the worst method at electing leaders supported by the most voters, while Approval Voting is considered one of the best methods.
Seattle and Washington are known for innovations in democracy, including Democracy Vouchers, mail-in ballots, and non-partisan primaries where the two candidates who get the most votes advance to the general election.
Implementing Approval Voting on top of these existing innovations would give Seattle residents the most representative elections anywhere in the country.
Switching to Approval Voting would:
Approval Voting has been working well in practice in Fargo, North Dakota and St. Louis, Missouri.
In the 2017 St. Louis Democratic mayoral primary, the winner received only 32% of the vote. St. Louis then adopted Approval Voting for primary elections in 2020 (with 68% support!), and used it for the first time in March 2021. In that mayoral primary, there were four candidates and voters cast an average of 1.56 votes per ballot, meaning many voters were able to express their support for two or more candidates. The top two candidates – Tishaura Jones and Cara Spencer – received over 57% and 46% approval in the primary, respectively.
No, it’s truly candidate-neutral and non-partisan.
Approval Voting provides election results that more accurately represent the will of the voters. It actually un-skews our current flawed election system, making our democracy more democratic!
Approval Voting is supported by a broad coalition that includes all walks of life, parties, and opinions. St. Louis’ Approval Voting proposal was endorsed by the League of Women Voters, both major city newspapers, the City Treasurer and City Recorder, The Organization for Black Struggle, many aldermen/alderwomen and state legislators, and national election analysts.
Approval Voting is actually fairer to both major and minor parties:
King County Elections will determine the implementation timeline for Seattle. St. Louis adopted Approval Voting in November 2020 and first used it in March 2021 – 4 months later.
RCV and Approval Voting would both be improvements on our current voting method. In fact, many Approval Voting supporters have supported RCV in the past. Since learning about Approval Voting, many of us have come to think of it as “RCV 2.0” – similar, but better.
Here are few aspects of Approval Voting that stand out:
Approval Voting is easy to implement and simple to use and explain.
No City Charter modification or other change to the law is required, so passing Initiative 134 with majority support is all that’s necessary. Another avenue to adoption is for the City Council to pass an ordinance adopting Approval Voting for Seattle primaries, in which case an initiative would not be required.
Thanks for asking! Donating to the I-134 campaign is one of the most impactful ways to help ensure this change makes it to the ballot, and to help us spread the word about the reasons to vote “Yes” when it does.
We’re all volunteers and can always use more helping hands, too! Here are some easy ways to get involved:
Donations are currently directed to two main areas: signature gathering and voter outreach.
We’re currently focused on gathering the ~26,000 signatures needed to put I-134 on the ballot. Once we’ve finished signature gathering, we’ll focus on getting the word out about I-134 and the benefits of Approval Voting.