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Thursday, March 30, 2023
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: 'Approval voting' a reform public should support

Letter: ‘Approval voting’ a reform public should support

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Editor: We need a better system for voting. I encourage everyone to look into different voting methods to learn more.

Our current “choose one” system, better known as plurality, is flawed. Third-party candidates and independents are discouraged from running for fear of siphoning votes from one mainstream candidate and causing the other to lose. Those that follow their conscience and do vote for someone other than a Democrat or Republican are chastised for “helping the other side.”

How do we fix this? By examining alternatives!

I present “approval voting.” Under this method, voters vote for every candidate they approve of. The candidate with the most votes wins.


The only necessary change to existing ballots is in the printed instructions: changing “vote for only one” to “vote for all you approve of.”

The first benefit is that vote-splitting is effectively eliminated. Want to support the Green candidate, the independent and the Democrat? With approval voting, you can.

Another benefit is that while not guaranteed to produce a majority winner, it is much more likely to do so than with plurality voting. Because voters are able to give an opinion on all candidates, approval voting produces a consensus winner.

Unless you are 100-percent satisfied with the current selection of candidates, you stand to gain from a voting method in which more than just two candidates are viable. Approval voting offers the greatest improvement over plurality for the least amount of change.

Brian Stephenson, Salem, Va.

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