Make Voting Powerful in Nelson NY

Make Voting Powerful in Nelson NY

March 4, 2022
Petition to
Nelson Town Board Town of Nelson
Signatures: 20Next Goal: 25
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Why this petition matters

Started by Matthew Kouba

The calls to fix the republic have been rising for a while now. The number of infrequent voters and non-voters has been rising in NYS and the nation. To fix this we need to get to the core issue hurting the success of our republic - the voting method itself! Local communities in NY can be the start of that change. We are granted that power by our state constitution! Local election reform here puts pressure on Albany to do the same for state and federal elections, something we desperately need!

We are collecting signatures asking for the Town Nelson NY to send to voters a referendum (voters vote on the proposal) to consider using Approval voting for Town elections. This change means that voters can Approve as many candidates in an election as they like instead of only marking and supporting one. The signatures will be presented to the Town Board to show them that the voters want to have a vote on the idea. The Board has already heard about Approval voting - now they need to hear from you!

Learn more about Approval voting with this video:
And by reading the FAQ linked here:

How Approval voting works:

Voters can support as many candidates in an election as they want by Approving them, or leaving them blank to not approve them. The candidate with the highest number of Approvals wins. You simply add up the votes, the same as you do now. The only difference is that voters have the freedom to choose-multiple, and that means every candidate needs to work for voters' support - not just those 'on their side.'

Approval voting makes voters more powerful. It removes the restriction that we can only choose-one candidate to approve-of when voting for a single office. It makes it impossible for voters to accidentally 'split the vote' and 'spoil' an election. It is also worth noting that it makes it possible to disapprove of as few candidates as you wish; rather than being forced to oppose all but one the way we are now.

  1. It encourages more candidates to run, eliminates vote splitting, and lowers the barrier of entry for regular people.
  2. It accurately measures support of candidates who did run, and lets the winners know just how popular they were among voters - not just that they got the most votes among partisan groups of voters.
  3. It allows politicians to compete for the same voters; making elections more policy focused and less party focused. Reduces partisanship and polarization.
  4. It encourages politicians to build the biggest coalition of voters possible. You can have an election with many candidates who the majority likes! 50%, 60%, 70% Approvals - this is because each candidate is Approved-of individually. Voters get a say on all of the candidates running!
  5. Approval voting makes elections into a contest of which candidates are the most popular. Think of it like an Approval rating in a news poll. Every voter gets to decide if each candidate running is a good choice or not. And they can do this for every candidate they want to consider. The more people that Approve a candidate, the higher that candidate's Approval rating, the better that candidate's chances are. It is a race to the top.
  6. It costs next to nothing; as it only removes a restriction. You can still vote as you always have if you only like just one candidate.
    It brings the benefit of a primary election to places that don't have one - but with none of the restrictions. One election, all voters in. But all the choices and power of a primary vote!

Please add your support! The town board already thinks the idea is worth looking at, they just need to hear that the residents of Nelson want the chance to vote on it or it's more advanced form STAR voting!

Questions & Answers:

Why Nelson?

Towns in NYS have a right granted by the NYS Constitution to pick their own voting method. We are one of the only states where voters are free enough to do this. We can lead our state, and our country. Showing others a better way to do elections is the key to saving our republic.

Enacting it here in Nelson, sets us on the path to one day getting to use it for state elections to Albany so we can have a stronger say, and someday Congress too! That is worth signing for!

"But we only ever have 2 candidates running, or worse only 1 candidate running uncontested. Why should we change anything?"

First, because being limited to only choosing-one is a restriction to be removed - why have it at all? Especially with the problems it causes when more candidates do try to run - we don't want people to be any more discouraged to run for office than they already are!

Second, being able to only choose-one means that no more than two candidates should run for office currently. And they both have to be supported by opposing voters since those groups of voters can only support one. This is one of the reasons we have so few candidates running in the first place and worsening polarization and partisan hostility on the rise across the country.

With Approval voting, candidates can compete for the same voters.

For instance if an electorate is conservative - then multiple conservative candidates can compete for the same office. You could have 2 Republicans running against each other. Add an Independence party candidate too. Approval voting can handle it.

4,5,6 candidates are fine! Elections remain competitive and diverse for every electorate. Competitive elections increase public engagement, and decrease corruption. The market of ideas needs to be a market. Not a good brand and a bad one.

With Approval, being on the 'matching' side of the  political spectrum for a district doesn't guarantee victory; you gotta have the policies and work for the vote of your own supporters. This encourages more candidates to run and for candidates to focus on problem solving.

In an informal poll done recently the overwhelming majority of respondents said they would be more likely to run for office if they didn't have to worry about being a spoiler; in Approval voting they don't have to.

What is vote splitting / spoiled elections?

Check out this graphic to see vote splitting in action:

In our current choose-one voting method, if more candidates (more choices for you) try to get on the ballot then the election can be 'spoiled.' With like-minded voters splitting their collective vote among similar candidates. Resulting in the victory of a majority-opposed candidate. Not good. The largest share of a minority of voters determines the winner in choose-one-only voting no matter how few that is: 45%, 35%, 25% and worse. This obviously discourages new candidates from running. Elections like this don't work for us. They don't really work for anyone. So why do it this way? Let's fix this.

Is this the only change needed to our elections?

No! But it is a huge one! Because it changes the *incentives* when campaigning and when voting; To appeal to the most voters, to run for office if you think you can bring something new and fresh to the table, and to give all candidates a fair consideration! We can definitely go further once we have shown what Approval voting can do. The next step could very well be adopting an expanded Approval voting - where you can Score the candidates you like to show level of support beyond just simple Approval (STAR voting is considered by many to be the best voting method yet devised for candidate elections.) But right now Approval voting solves the most issues for the least effort, and shows the path forward. If the Board decided to investigate using STAR voting right now and put that forward instead that would be even better!

Where is it used?

Fargo North Dakota, and St. Louis Missouri are the most recent places to use Approval voting. Fargo has seen record breaking numbers of candidates running since the adoption of Approval voting.

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Signatures: 20Next Goal: 25
Support now