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Multiple-choice "approval" voting

Putting competition and accountability in our elections

Imagine what grocery shopping would be like if you could only shop at one store or chain at a time and in order to go to another you had to switch all of your business to there. New or secondary stores would not be able to get the volume needed to be viable. The few that would remain would be complacent, only doing enough to keep people from being so unhappy as to want to totally give up shopping there.

Prices would be higher and service, selection, etc. lower.

That may seem like a crazy scenario, but it is the reality in our electoral system. Voters are forced to pick one and only one candidate to vote for and can not support alternative ones. They must say they agree with one choice 100% and all of the others not at all, which is often not the case.

New candidates are unable to win because they must not only get people's votes, but also take away those votes from existing candidates and do this on a large scale. When two credible people run with overlapping platforms, they can end up splitting the votes and both loose to a worse option.

This restraint on competition is why we end up with bad politicians and so many problems with our government and in our society. Capitalism thrives on competition and consumers' ability to choose, and our politics should too. The ability to support multiple candidates is something that should be a basic part of our democracy and should have been achieved a long time ago.

Unlike other solutions where candidates can be ranked, approval voting is simple, compatible with existing counting systems and asks a basic question: "For each candidate, do you believe they are qualified for office and would you support having them be your elected representative?"

Instead of positive, healthy debates about who is best fit to represent the people or what's the best solution to an issue, our democracy is often turned into a political civil war, with candidates and politicians "winning" by bringing down opposition to below their level and scaring people away from considering it.

This voting process could also save money by combining non-partisan primaries into the general election, since there would be no need to narrow down the field in order to address vote-splitting. Requiring candidates, voters and government to endure two elections is costly, time-consuming and taxing, and many voters ignore primaries where the stage can be set for who will win.

Lastly, many argue for campaign finance reform, but this can be better and is desirable even with it. It should not face legal issues, can allow alternative candidates to win (such as by making their fundraising limits a selling point), and even the best campaign finance system does not address the one-choice-per-race limit of our voting system. Ending incumbents' ability to monopolize peoples' votes can also make it an alternative to term limits.

I would like to get together with other like-minded citizens and get approval voting on the ballot this November. Unlike new taxes or regulations, it is a simple concept that everyone should be able to support.

Posted on reddit on February 14th, 2018, in honor of Oregon's 159th birthday

By Jason McHuff,