Making elections better match the public will with Alternative Voting Methods

How states can use alternative voting methods — such as ranked choice, approval, score, and STAR voting, as well as multi-member districts — to better translate public will into electoral outcomes

Making elections better match the public will with Alternative Voting Methods

Today, DPN is launching the Alternative Voting Methods policy kit—an open resource for legislators, activists, experts, and journalists to learn more about how states can implement alternatives to first-past-the-post plurality voting to improve the fairness and representativeness of American elections.

Read the Alternative Voting Methods kit

For years, dissatisfaction with our political system has grown within the American public. Despite most Americans’ reluctance to officially identify with the two major political parties, more people than ever are voting straight down the ticket for one or the other of the two parties because they have no real alternative.  Our current plurality voting method often forces voters to choose between expressing their true preferences and impacting the election, decreasing the representativeness of government and discouraging voters from supporting third party candidates for fear of the “spoiler” effect.

Fortunately, alternative voting methods, such as ranked-choice, approval, score, and STAR voting, address many of these problems by changing the ways in which individuals can vote for candidates in elections.  Voters are able to express a fuller range of their preferences—even if that means voting for a third party candidate—without inadvertently contributing to the election of their least favorite candidate.  By encouraging candidates to seek support outside of their traditional voter bases, these methods also increase consensus building and decrease negative campaigning.  They can also increase the presence of currently underrepresented groups in government and produce outcomes that more accurately reflect the will of the electorate.

Alternative voting methods are not a distant reality, either.  Countries all around the world have been using some of these alternatives for years. Australia, for example, has used a form of ranked-choice voting since 1918.  Cities across the United States, from San Francisco to Fargo to St. Louis, are using alternative voting methods to improve their elections. Maine has been using ranked-choice voting in some statewide and federal elections since 2018, and in this past election, Alaskan voters followed suit, passing an initiative to implement ranked-choice in their state and federal elections.  Pioneering cities and states from every part of the country have taken the step to improve the most fundamental aspect of our democracy through the implementation of alternative voting methods.

If you are a legislator, activist, expert, or journalist looking to help turn alternative voting methods from idea into policy, check out (and share) our kit—and please reach out!