News Jul 11, 2022 at 3:36 pm

After Months of Tension, Ranked-Choice and Approval Voting Could Duke it out on the Ballot

Mikey Burton



Quick clarification here. The article says both measures show up side-by-side on the ballot but that is not true. City law is trumped by the State Law in this case.

Instead, voters are first asked if they'll take any voting reform, then the second question is, "regardless of how you voted, if voting reform passes, which should it be? Approval/RCV."

It's like saying, do you want to buy a pizza? It will be meat lovers or veggie but you won't know which until after you pay. Seems like some vegetarians would have a problem with that!


How do you get to 50%+ of the vote for top TWO? Confusing. And not convinced there’s much juice for the squeeze. There’s enough distrust in the voting system before going down this rabbit hole.


Wait. With voters being able to vote for each of the competing measures--Approval- AND Ranked Choice-Voting--the issue will be decided by a de-facto "Approval-Voting" process . . . right??


Andrew Lewis wants to put both approval voting and ranked-choice voting side-by-side on the ballot to give voters a full and robust discussion and comparison of the two methods. Will be interesting - and perhaps revealing - to see which side supports "full and robust discussion" and which side would rather not.


Approval Voting is a simpler version of Ranked-Choice Voting, and Approval Voting has enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. My advice to the City Council is to put Approval Voting on the ballot, and if voters enact it, wait and see for a few primary election cycles. If it seems to be working better than the current system, then propose putting RCV on the ballot. Putting both on the ballot runs the risk of voters' rejecting both new systems because voters dislike one sufficiently to torpedo both, or are confused at the technical differences between them. (See @3 for an example.)

@6: This is the first article on these two proposed voting systems where the Stranger's "full and robust discussion" hasn't included an explicit dishonest imputation of racism to Seattle's voters, and implied that Approval Voting will exacerbate the effects of Seattle's supposed racism. So, I guess that's a long-overdue start to honest civic dialog on these proposed voting systems.

In that same vein, I applaud the author's update of the article in response to Logan Bowers' concerns, expressed @2. And again, we do not want to create a situation where putting two new plans on one ballot influences voters to reject both plans.


@6, why stop at ranked choice if we want a “full and robust” discussion? Why not bring back parties to primaries or any number of other options that exist out there? Approval voting advocates went through the trouble of collecting signatures, who does ranked voting know on Council to bypass this process and why is Council really interested in producing a challenger to a concept brought by a peoples initiative?


A real democracy would use direct elections.


Either of RCV or Approval would be an improvement to a system that can't scale past two candidates and otherwise punishes the side that runs more candidates.


@12 It's not about indecisiveness at all; it's about allowing people to make their choice out of sincerity instead of strategy.


@12 & @14: As @15 describes, the current system rewards voter strategy ("which of these candidates is more electable?"), not voter sincerity ("which of these candidates would be best?"). It thus breeds cynicism. It usually comes down to voting against someone the voter does not want, the infamous "lesser of two evils."

Approval Voting allows for voter strategy, but rewards it: one vote to the candidate the voter thinks is best, and one vote to the "more electable" candidate. (The voter is also "voting against" any candidate the voter does not choose.) Ranked-Choice Voting gives the option of selecting every candidate, in order preferred. Again, this rewards voter strategy, while also rewarding voter sincerity. There's nothing to reward the indecisive in any of this -- in fact, it tends to require the voter make more decisions, not fewer -- and each proposed system is better than the current system.

I love the Stranger's presumption, in describing Approval Voting as having supposedly "stepped on the toes" of Ranked-Choice Voting, when Approval Voting has actually demonstrated the required level of public support, leaving RCV to beg for legislative fiat to put it on the same ballot. (The link being broken just makes the point even better!) It's just another sign of the Stranger's views receding ever-further from popular opinion in Seattle. (Next year, the Stranger will once again lecture voters in District 3 they are "racist" if they so much as think of voting for anyone other than the Stranger's own anointed Dear Great Maximum Leader. Sigh.)


@20: There's no real way to judge which candidate is electable or not. Any attempt to do so is merely guessing at how other citizens will vote. This guess has nothing to do with whether the candidate would make an effective office-holder.

@21: Why do you keep arguing this? For you, nothing will change:

If you find yourself with an Approval Voting ballot, then approve the one candidate you favor, as you always have. This makes your Approval Voting ballot equivalent to a traditional ballot.

If you find yourself with a Ranked-Choice ballot, rank your favored candidate as #1, and do not rank any other candidate. This makes your Ranked-Choice ballot equivalent to a traditional ballot.

And it's NOT like selecting a bus route. American women lost their right to choose because of Presidents W and Trump, who could have been prevented from taking office by just a few and a few thousand votes in Florida and Michigan, respectively. If Florida's 2000 ballot had allowed a voter to choose BOTH Nader and Gore, W would not have come within cheating distance. Then there would have been no Justice Alito to write the majority opinion to overturn Roe.


@23: Good luck getting everyone to agree on the either/or nature of our current voting + two-party system. It's worth noting Approval Voting would have let the Nader crowd have their protest vote and elect Gore as well. I'm having trouble seeing how that is a bad thing.

"...W would not have been president, Alito and Roberts would not be on the Court and we would not have invaded Iraq..."

Heck, go bigger: 9/11 itself may not have happened. President Gore would have been monitoring the intelligence concerning terrorism, as he had no (100% cattle-free) 'ranch' in Texas on which to ignore CIA reports. (The Gore family also had no long-standing family ties to the Saudi Royal family, which didn't exactly help W identify threats when 15 out of the 19 hijackers came from that country.)


@25: "Gore would have been a fine President there was no need for Nader to run."

Well, yeah, but wouldn't it make more sense to build a system wherein Nader could run and Gore get elected anyway? 'Spoiler' candidates are an affront to democracy*, IMHO, and both RCV and (especially) Approval Voting would allow both protest candidates and clear winners.

*But pre-emptively eliminating candidates is worse.


@27: Seattle would have more than twenty candidates in the Mayoral primary election, as we did in 2017? And while I'm not at all arguing with you about the current City Council, they were elected under the existing system. "We dare not change it because it might somehow get worse" isn't exactly a great rallying cry.


Let the people decide what they want.

I support both approval and ranked choice voting being placed on the November ballot.

Personally I will be voting for ranked choice voting.


@29: While I no longer reside in Washington state, thanks for informing me that the usual suspects appear, yet again, on the ballot there. There's comfort in knowing certain cranks will, like Jesus said of the poor, always be there for us. (I'm assuming the ex-doctor is Stan Lippman?)

Look, we all know American politics has always attracted an outsized share of cranks, lunatics, conspiracy theorists, flat-earthers, and con men. (Did anyone ever discover what 'Ace the Architect' did with most of his Seattle Democracy Voucher money?) The price we pay, etc. Approval Voting and Ranked-Choice Voting provide voters with new tools for separating these Silly Party candidates from the ones worthy of actual consideration. Approve or Rank the candidates you take seriously, and ignore the rest. That's what you do in a primary election anyway.

Please wait...

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