New Ideas in Election Reform: Approval Voting
Robert Rouse of A Little Left of Centrist has posted an interview with Rob LeGrand, head of Americans for Approval voting. The group is advocating a method of voting that would allow voters to cast a vote of approval for any and every candidate on the ballot whom they feel would be an acceptable choice.
This sounds a lot like instant runoff elections (a method actually used in Australia) where voters rank candidates from favorite to least favorite. If no candidate gets a majority of first level votes, then the second level votes are tallied for the two top contenders. Approval voting seems similar, except that instead of creating automatic runoffs, it allows for voters to actually vote for more than one candidate at a time.
I’m all for election reforms, even if implementing them will be difficult. But I’m not sure approval voting is a system I can support. My biggest problem with it is that it allows for multiple voting by individuals. It’s not any different than casting two (or three or more) ballots—which is illegal and illegal for a good reason.
Instant runoffs, however, could be just as effective of a reform but are less radical in that voters are still casting only one vote. And they could still afford the moderating influence that LeGrand thinks can come form approval voting. In both systems, candidates would have to try to appeal to the broad electorate instead of simply motivating their bases.
But instant runoff is the better system, in my mind. Thanks to Robert for taking the time to conduct and post this fascinating interview.