CES Updates

The Center for Election Science Begins Its Attack on Plurality Voting

By Aaron Hamlin

We did it! We raised the money for the Approval Voting video. Thank you for your support!

We’ve launched on Indiegogo to create a professional video on an alternative voting method, Approval Voting. See the video above for our pitch. We do this because the current method we use, Plurality Voting, is deeply flawed and out of date. Apparently others agree. Our campaign’s first $1,000 came within 24 hours.

Our vote-for-one Plurality system is simply the worst voting method ever invented. Here’s why:

  • Not expressive, at all.
  • The vote splits between similar candidates (terrible for primaries).
  • Moderate candidates get squeezed out, even when they’re popular (bad winners).
  • Spoiler alert! Candidates with little support can throw the election.
  • Fearing a wasted vote causes dishonest voting.
  • New candidates with different ideas get artificially low support because voters fear wasting their vote. Policy discussion suffers as a result.


Voting Power and Procedure is an international electoral research group from the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2011, they brought together 22 voting theory specialists. And not a single one of these voting specialists chose Plurality Voting. The method they did prefer, however, was Approval Voting. And that’s what we propose.

Approval Voting, like traditional Plurality, is used to elect a single winner. But instead of being limited to picking one option, voters are permitted to choose as many as they want. There’s no ranking. And it’s still most votes wins.

Approval Voting needs to replace our current Plurality method. Here’s why:

  • Expressive.
  • Works on current voting machines.
  • So easy! No runoff or complicated ranking.
  • Perfectly constitutional. Does not violate “one person, one vote.”
  • You can support groups of similar candidates (great for primaries).
  • Candidates with broad support are preferred (better winners).
  • No “spoilers”! Voters can hedge their bets by adding another vote for a more viable candidate.
  • Vote your favorite(s) every single time without repercussion. This is one of very few voting methods that permits this.
  • More honest voting allows candidates to get a more accurate reflection of support. This helps new candidates, especially third parties and independents.


Admittedly, the toughest obstacle Approval Voting faces is that it’s newer and lesser known outside the academic community. And it’s that recognition that has inspired the fundraising campaign. We’ve Thought Bubble, a video animation company, to create the video. And we’ve timed our fundraising to coincide with an internet competition hosted by Looking@Democracy, funded by The MacArthur Foundation.

If timely funded, we’ll enter that competition. The contest is for short media content that “tells how we might together strengthen American democracy.” And this gives the us an opportunity to increase exposure and place Approval Voting before the contest’s reform-oriented audience. The top prize of $25K also presents opportunity for future programs.

Dr. Steven Brams, NYU political scientist and pioneer of Approval Voting, has endorsed the our organization:

“I heartily endorse the efforts of The Center for Election Science to apply scientific methods to the study of voting procedures and to assess their applicability to real-world elections. Unlike many academics, members of the Center have been willing to advise election officials and politicians on the implementation of better procedures, which helps advance the practice as well as the theory of democracy.”

We urge you to put your foot down against what is clearly established as a hideous voting method. Plurality Voting has held its dysfunctional reign for ages. It’s time the world knew about Approval Voting.

Visit Our Indiegogo Page!