What races will the switch to approval voting affect?
The switch to approval voting will only affect races to fill positions for the City of St. Louis itself: Mayor, Comptroller, President of the Board of Aldermen, and Alderman.
How long have we been talking about this?
March 7, 2017: St. Louis Mayoral election is decided by 888 votes in the Democratic primary. Lyda Krewson wins with 32% of the vote.
February 2018: A group of St. Louis activists launch St. Louisans for Ranked Choice Voting. The group gathered 200 signatures before discovering RCV was not compatible with the city’s voting machines.
November 6, 2018: Fargo, ND becomes the first city in the nation to adopt approval voting for electing officials.
March 5, 2019: St. Louis President of the Board of Aldermen primary election is decided by 1,404 votes in the Democratic primary. Lewis Reed wins with 35.6% of the vote.
March 2019: A group of St. Louis activists form a campaign to reform voting methods in the city. With candidates winning citywide seats with less than 40% of the vote, change is urgently needed.
July 4, 2019: With two dozen candidates in the running, voters and political scientists are concerned with how Democratic voters will be able to agree on one nominee for the 2020 presidential race. Political scientist Steven Brams pens a letter to the editor in The New York Times advocating for the adoption of approval voting.
Why approval voting instead of instant-runoff voting?
Let’s be clear: St. Louis uses what is known as the worst possible system of elections in the world. It allows a minority of voters in a low-turnout election to effectively decide the person who takes office and makes policies for all of us.
Instant-runoff voting, or IRV, is functionally the same as a traditional runoff except, instead of making voters show up multiple times to vote, voters rank the candidates on their initial ballot. This ranking allows the voter to leave instructions on how they'd vote in subsequent runoff elections so they don't have to show up more than once.
Both approval voting and instant-runoff voting are far better than our current system—the difference is that approval voting with a top two runoff is compatible with our current voting machines, while instant-runoff is not. We fully support upgrading our machines, but are not aware of any plans to spend the millions of dollars to do that. Passing approval voting is a huge improvement to our election system without extra costs to the city.
Where is Approval Voting used?
Organizations across the country use this system for elections, from the staff senate at North Dakota State University to the student body at the University of Colorado at Boulder to the Mathematical Association of America to the Texas Libertarian Party. Government elections, such as those asking the public to choose acceptable options for infrastructure projects, have also been administered throughout the United States using this system.
In November 2018, Fargo, North Dakota became the first city in America to adopt approval voting to elect officials. St. Louis has an opportunity to be another leader in the field of approval voting.
Who is behind STL Approves?
Five grassroots volunteers started working on voting reform in St. Louis City in early 2018 to ensure winning candidates have broad support among voters. Now our team has grown and we have developed a thorough policy and campaign plan to make this a reality. Check out some of our supporters, and add your name!