• The primary mission of a voting method is to accurately represent the opinions of voters on a set of candidates. In other words, a winning candidate should represent, through views and actions, the opinions and preferences of the voters in their area. Unfortunately, the most widely used voting method in Utah, plurality or choose-one voting, does not accomplish this aim and instead encourages candidates to appeal to the edges of the political spectrum to obtain the largest single block of the vote, rather than appealing to a common center. The main reason for this is that choose-one voting does not accurately represent opinions when there are more than two candidates on the ballot because voters often have more opinions than saying 'yes' to just one candidate and 'no' to all of the others. Approval Voting is a simple yet powerful method that allows voters to say 'yes' to multiple candidates on the ballot, giving more expressivity to voters so we can use their opinions to more accurately analyze which candidate best represents the population.

    Many people may be familiar with the terms 'spoiler effect', 'vote splitting', or 'voting for the lesser of two evils', where a candidate who doesn't win, splits the vote with a similar candidate, causing a less preferred candidate to win the election. These phrases are all present because of our current choose-one voting method that leads to unrepresentative candidates, Approval Voting solves this issue among the others mentioned above.

  • Ranked-choice voting asks voters to rank candidates by preference. Election officials then count up all of the first choices, and if one candidate earns more than 50% of the vote, they win. If no candidate gains a majority of votes, the candidate with the lowest support is eliminated. If your first choice is eliminated, your second choice is counted. This process is repeated until one candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. RCV ignores all your preferences besides your first choice unless your first choice is eliminated. This means that good consensus candidates can be eliminated in the first round. Approval voting simply allows voters to vote for as many candidates as they wish, and the candidate with the most votes wins. Approval voting is simpler and cheaper than RCV and counts all of your preferences when votes are totaled.

  • Right now, there are two places in the US that use Approval Voting: Fargo, North Dakota, and St. Louis, Missouri. Both cities have seen extremely high satisfaction with Approval Voting with voters saying they enjoyed the process and that they would like to continue using it. Significantly, both cities have seen a large percentage of voters decide to approve of multiple candidates, meaning the added function of Approval Voting is being utilized to produce more representative elections. On that note, winners have won with far more than a majority giving winning candidates strong winning mandates.

  • There have been several bills proposed by legislators in the past few years to add Approval Voting as an option for municipalities, it has also gained the support of all 29 county clerks in the state as the 'best alternative method' due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and its easy audit trail.

  • Right now we are focused on the municipal, or city level. The state legislature chose to go into a testing phase regarding alternative voting methods from 2018 to 2026. Right now our ask is simple: Let’s add Approval Voting to the pilot project so Utahns get the chance to test more than one alternative before ultimately choosing which method to use statewide. We believe that Utah voters will enjoy using Approval Voting and want to continue using it.

  • It’s free! Well, mostly. No new voting machines or software are needed. Additionally, the ballot design is the same size as our current ballot, unlike in Ranked Choice Voting. This means that the cost of mailing ballots doesn’t increase at all! The only thing that does require money is voter education. Since approval voting is so simple, even the cost of voter education would be relatively low. Utah Approves also plans to help educate voters so the burden on the taxpayer is as low as possible.

  • The spoiler effect is when a candidate (A) that has little chance of winning is similar to one of the two major frontrunners in a race (B & C). This leads to A taking votes away from either B or C, guaranteeing the victory of the other. This occurs in plurality voting and, only to a slightly lesser extent, in Ranked Choice Voting as well. The spoiler effect often leads to the party with the greatest support losing and a candidate that is not very representative, winning. At this point, most voters understand the spoiler effect and so instead just choose B or C out of the fear of wasting their vote or helping their least favorite win. Approval Voting solves the spoiler effect by allowing voters to choose ALL of their favorites rather than just one, meaning voters aren’t forced to choose a leading candidate to avoid wasting their vote or choosing a spoiler candidate. Approval voting always chooses the consensus candidate who will best represent the overall population and overtime, can help candidates that don't get votes due to the fear of the spoiler effect, get the number of votes they actually represent.

  • The concept of One-person, One-vote was established to guarantee that no voter had more or less weight to their vote than any other voter. Approval Voting does not break this rule. Approval Voting is asking every voter to give a “Yes” or “No” for every candidate. Each voter has the same choices in front of them and regardless of how many people you approve of, you can guarantee your preferences are being represented equally.

    In fact, Approval Voting isn’t much different than the local, at-large, elections we’re used to where voters are choosing more than one seat to be filled. Each voter has exactly the same amount of political power.

  • This question refers to strategic voting, or where voters consider more than just their preferences. Approval Voting has proven to be extremely resistant to strategic voting in both real-world elections and mathematical simulations. This is because in Approval Voting there is no punishment for choosing your preferences. In some cases, you may only have one candidate on the ballot they approve of. In other circumstances, you may notice a candidate that isn’t your favorite, but you also like, is getting a lot of support, and choose to vote for both so you still have a say between the frontrunners in case your favorite does poorly. Whatever the situation, voters can vote their honest preferences.

    Additionally, in both real-world elections and opinion polling, voters have consistently approved of multiple candidates. In Fargo, North Dakota, voters used approval voting to select city commissioners. There was an average of 2.3 votes per ballot in a race that would elect two councilors. This was up from 1.8 in the previous election where voters could not select more than 2 candidates. In the St. Louis Mayoral Primary election in 2021, which used approval voting, there was an average of 1.56 votes per ballot, meaning that many voters did approve of multiple candidates. We expect to see this number increase as voters get more familiar with using and watching the results of approval voting.

  • We are a local group organizing to promote approval voting. We are actively looking for volunteers, we host monthly volunteer meetings and have teams that write letters to the editor, produce social media posts, plan and host events, and help us with fundraising. Whatever your skills are, you can help us bring approval voting to Utah: sign up today. If you do not have time to volunteer, talking about approval voting with whoever you’re around is always helpful! You can also donate here.

  • Approval voting allows for candidates to speak their minds, and for voters to vote theirs. 

    • Minor party, less polarizing, and candidates with new ideas can feel encouraged to run, since they don’t have to worry about becoming a “spoiler.” 
    • They can receive a more accurate reflection of how many people support them, as people can vote for a third party AND a major party candidate.
    • Having an accurate reflection of support can help third parties build momentum for future elections and influence current policy conversations.
  • Approval Voting is about accurate representation, so there is no inherent partisan benefit. In one city it may be true that the majority opinion is to restrict high-density housing, but in another city, the opposite could be true, and in a third city there may be a measured take to add some high-density housing, but not too much. Approval Voting aims to elect the candidate who most accurately represents the viewpoint of that city. If Approval Voting were eventually implemented in partisan races in Utah, the same would be true regarding party membership and opinion. In other words, it helps all different parties and communities by allowing their voice to translate to a proportionate amount of support.

  • Consensus candidates are those who maximize the amount of people who approve of them holding office. This is why it is called ‘Approval’ Voting. Consensus candidates need to appeal to as many different groups as possible, not just the largest single group which results in the winning candidate being a consensus among the population, often with far more than 50% of the vote. With a consensus-style candidate, more people feel like their voices are heard and they can be satisfied with the winner. Negative discourse between candidates is also less incentivized because even supporters of other candidates can be potential votes