A New Challenger Appears - STL Approves


Fresh off the events at Unrig, we have some excellent news.

St Louis now has a grassroots campaign to enact Approval Voting for their Mayor’s race. Their site is http://stlapproves.org/

If you have friends out in St Louis, let them know and get them involved in signing the petition for the ballot!


If I am reading it correctly this would really be “approval with a real consecutive second runoff (not a virtual (basically fake) runoff).” As per:

Which says:

The question on the ballot explains it all:

Shall the City of St. Louis adopt an ordinance to:

<> establish an open, non-partisan system for elections to the offices of Mayor, Comptroller, President of the Board of Aldermen, and Alderman

<> enable voters to choose all the candidates they wish in the open, non-partisan primary

<> allow the top two candidates to then compete in a runoff during the general election?

I think the wording of it is less than ideal. In all tradition that I know of, “primaries” are private affairs. For example, I and two buddies could always hold a primary, even if we didn’t have an official party. But even if we did have an official party, the primary would not be governed by the same laws as an official “election”. I assume this varies from state to state, but if write-ins are allowed, any non-officially recognized party could hold a primary, choose a candidate in whatever way they agreed to, and potentially get that candidate elected.

So, their open, non-partisan primary is presumably an approval method first round of a true consecutive election. And their runoff during the general election is the single selection method second round of the true consecutive election.

At first glance, it is probably not enfeeblingly oversimple, and definitely not pathologically complex. It would likely disrupt two-party lock-in, but could conceivably be vulnerable to three-party lock-in. It would be much stronger than one-round approval.

I would much prefer the (simple) score method (since approval is inadequately differentiative of choices), but this might, just perhaps, be a good first step.


(Sad to say this blog platform is pathologically complex.)

[Edit] [Quoting my letter]
No, not anything being discussed. I posted something with my usual “hand-made” bullet points and somehow the system transformed it into one of those “sliding window” things that programmers use when avoiding line breaks.

Most blogs make quote “boxes” look weird, so I usually make my own. But this platform often thinks that I am trying to “hint” something if I don’t use its built-in markup.

[Edit #2]
Using the SeaMonkey program, I see it has turned my quote into some sort of HTML “blockXquote”. (Probably CSS gone wild.) This is why I like to keep things simple.

Rkjoyce thinks the formatting is too hard

This has an approval voting ballot, but it is not an approval voting tabulation procedure. It is also not Block Approval Voting, which is good since that has flaws much like Block Plurality.

It is in some senses more like the STAR Voting proposals in Oregon: candidates first face a score-voting approach (but with just two scores: “approve” or “no support”), then a runoff. But in this case there is a whole separate election for the runoff.

Has anyone studied this voting method? Is there a good reason to support it?

Can we at least not call it “Approval voting” given the increased confusion and controversy it would generate? I mean, remember all the endless confusion and controversy over people abusing the term “ranked-choice voting”?

Re the comments about party primaries, from what I’m hearing, wouldn’t this also effectively eliminate them, and put all the candidates from all the parties in to a single open public primary?


=/ Can we at least not call it “Approval voting” given the increased confusion and controversy it would generate? /=

Then what should we call it? It should really be called an =/ approval with a real consecutive runoff /= method. Consider:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Of course, rights of this nature are not peculiar to the U.S. =/ the right of the people peaceably to assemble /= means that you may throw parties at your home. But it also means that it is not permissible to stop people from forming political parties which nominate, and then “run”, candidates, regardless of whatever election method may be in place.

Clearly this St. Louis “non-partisan primary” is actually a portion of an official election, since it is certainly not a legal, private peaceable assembly. So calling it an =/ open, non-partisan primary /= involves a misnomer. In fact, this (or any) system could never eliminate “party primaries”.

(Could blogs please stop individually “customizing” HTML with CSS?)


Is it too late for the campaign to add a provision “If any candidate(s) get over 50% of the votes in the primary election, then the top candidate is declared the winner with no runoff election”?


Best to ask them that! [email protected]


I’ll let you know the response.


This is why they added the question mark:

The question on the ballot explains it all:

Shall the City of St. Louis adopt an ordinance to:

1 Like

Do you or anyone else know where they are in the signature gathering process?


I could email them to ask.


No updates, but their Facebook still seems optimistic.


Here’s my emails:


I’m very happy to see the campaign for democracy that St. Louis is starting. I wanted to ask if you guys can still change or consider changing your petition to add a section that reads something like,

“If any candidate(s) get over 50% of the votes in the primary election, then the highest vote-getting candidate is declared the winner with no runoff election held for that office.”

It would help save money, while allowing voters who are unsure of voting in the general election to say “Let’s get it over with.” by approving additional candidates beyond what they’d normally vote.

Thank you!

Asset Voting Advocacy

Also, I’d like to quickly ask where you are in the signature gathering process! A Progress page never hurts :slight_smile:

Finally, I’ll also suggest a provision enshrining the right to approval vote a write-in for the runoff. If a voter has a favorite candidate that didn’t make the runoff, they can write them in, and vote for one (or both) of the runoff candidates. This also protects against Roy Moore scenarios.

A summary of the reply chain:

They said that they had earlier rejected the suggestion for primary 50%+ candidates to win due to it discouraging voters from approving additional candidates.
We got into a back and forth, and tentatively concluded that it might be allowed to have write-in candidates (with Approval Voting?) in the runoff.

I also ended up not suggesting the following provision "on the Plurality part of the ballot, it shall be clearly stated to “Vote for ONE of the candidates you approve of.” because that ship has probably sailed.

1 Like

It’s probably best to only summarize the e-mails rather than quote them directly. I’ve been asked by the organization to remove the direct reply.
I hope we don’t get into a free speech debate here, my intent is not to censor your words - but only to allow them to present things to an audience they expect. Please get their permission before publishing their replies.
I’ll write STL Approves a message asking them to join us on the forum.

1 Like

My sincere apologies, I’ll summarize the replies.


Might be of interest to note that stlapproves.org seems to have changed their e-mail to [email protected].



I am detecting some competition, though I think might not be as strong as STL Approves…