Keeping partisan primaries with Approval/Score removes most benefits


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:

  1. Money is a proxy for elect-ability in primaries. dont vote for the less financed candidate they’ll lose in the general.

  2. Buying influence from 2-4 people is more affordable than buying influence with 20+ people

  3. 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.


A lot of good thoughts here…

I disagree with this particular details. With Score/Approval, primaries become nearly irrelevant. If Bernie doesn’t get the Dem nomination, he can just run in the general.

I believe the biggest benefit of these systems is improved out comes, as demonstrated here.

The secondary benefits (diminishing the importance of cash, making primaries superfluous, mitigating Gerrymandering, etc.) are huge too. But it’s hard to argue they’re as big as the invention of democracy.


I think one of the best ways to get AV into general use is to convince one of the major parties to run their primary elections with AV. They’ll get a better and more competitive candidate, and then the other party will be forced to follow suit. Eventually it’ll be obvious that the general election should be an AV election.
Anyone friends with the RNC or DNC?


Changing party rules is easier than changing state laws which is easier than changing the Constitution so I agree step one is use Approval Voting for your primaries because it’ll help your party elect better candidates. Donald Trump certainly benefited from running against a crowded field of 15 Republicans who split votes. But my goal is the elimination if primaries. George Washington didn’t go through one and he was a fine president.


I will respectfully disagree that empowering independent candidates undoes the damage caused by primaries. Adding more necks for selection to go through helps but not nearly as much as removing all the bottlenecks. I can’t mathematically express partisan gridlock and polarization but the effects are easy to see. We tell people score and approval stops vote splitting so what does a primary accomplish? People tell me:

1- help educate voters about candidates. To this I’d say the absence of primary races doesn’t erase campaign efforts we can still hold debates, rallies, conventions, and events without primary races.

2- filter out bad candidates. bad in the eyes of 9% of the population might very well be great to 100% of the population. Having small groups reduce choice for large groups isn’t very Democratic

3- keep ballot lengths under control . The every election has ballot access rules removing primaries won’t change that maybe we increase signatory requirements so candidates spend more time talking to individuals in communities campaigning but we can balance no primaries and non serious candidates flooding ballots

If we were building a system from scratch we wouldn’t use primaries with AV when we obtain AV (…or score…) it’s nonsensical to keep them.


They’ll get a better and more competitive candidate, and then the other party will be forced to follow suit.

Will they, though?

One of the major problems with partisan primaries is that they consistently elect candidates that appeal to their base. An approval primary almost certainly wouldn’t have gotten Bernie the DNC’s nomination, even if he were preferred by the populace at large, because the only people who have a say in partisan primaries are the same people who picked Hillary, and it was functionally a two way race.

The advantage that Bryce seems to be talking about is that of Republicans being able to say “Not Hillary, we don’t trust her” and that of Democrats being able to say “Not Trump, he’s repulsive.” Much of that would be lost if the primaries were still partisan.


That’s why the ultimate goal is the removal of
Primaries. Whenever you have a series of races you introduce tactical vulnerabilities. We don’t talk about burying much but there’s nothing stopping a large group of people from voting in a rival primary to try and elect a non winner to help their fav from. Nothing good comes from parties. They cost money, reduce choices, polarize candidates, and weaken elections with vunerablility. The only reason we put up with that is because we have to. FPtP splits votes so we need a 2 person race. Approval voting doesn’t split votes.