Here are the benefits from Approval and Score voting:
- Remove vote splitting
- Reveal true support levels for all parties
- Increase Voter turnout
Those aren’t half bad. They are some major improvements however they pale in comparison to removing partisan primaries:
Reduce incumbent advantage - Incumbents face same party competition in general elections. A candidate being unpopular is more common than the ideology of that candidate no longer being popular in an area.
Reduce gerrymandering - With no partisan ideological bottlenecks to exploit cracked districts no longer elect the same kind of candidates of packed districts
Reduce negative advertising - in a two person race (approval won’t make Libertarians or greens win) a vote against your rival = a vote for you. But when you’re running against 5+ people from a rival party knocking one might make them not approve them but they’ll still likely approve others in their party. So at a minimum it encourages attack ads to target positions not individual character which is a major improvement. Then you consider that attacking a party might make them vote for you but might just scare them to another candidate from your party. Economically its best to just run positive ads. This improves civic discourse which improves voter information which improves democracy.
Reduce influence of money in politics - this works in a few ways:
Money is a proxy for elect-ability in primaries. dont vote for the less financed candidate they’ll lose in the general.
Buying influence from 2-4 people is more affordable than buying influence with 20+ people
Return on investment is diminished when incumbent advantage is diminished. When buying influence doesn’t last as long because turnover increases you are less likely to want to do it.
- Reduce Partisan Polarization - Statistically people are center so a democratic system would elect centrist people. Partisan primaries pull options away from center though. The average of 2 halves ( especially when median voters often don’t participate in primaries) will pull away from the average of the whole. The more parties pull away from each other the more partisanship will erodes our institutions. Party loyalty short circuits the separation of power look at the Supreme court for an excellent example of this. But Party tribalism even spreads to media outlets (Fox anyone?) and social media (Twitter compared to GAB) and it won’t stop. Axing primaries means voters get a full spectrum of choice not 3-4 candidates filtered through bottlenecks
The greatest benefit of Approval/Score voting is that it frees us from our need for candidates by removing vote splitting. Keeping primaries with AV is barely progress at all.