Commentary & Analysis

Board Spotlight: Restoring Trust in Government

“Approval voting offers a chance to reduce spoiled elections, something the country desperately needs.”

It’s this desperate need for reform that drove former board member Jameson Quinn in his work with The Center for Election Science. 

Jameson’s interests in voting method reform go as far back as 1996 when he supported third party candidate Ralph Nader for president. He saw the election as demonstrating the limitations of choose-one voting and convinced him that there must be better solutions. Jameson soon learned about instant-runoff voting methods and even coded an early website to inform people about alternative election methods. 

“Most political divides in the U.S. and even in Canada or the U.K. can be traced back to ineffective voting methods,” Jameson noted.

In 2013, Jameson became one of the earliest board members of CES and worked to establish the organization. He has since served as a vice chair of the CES board of directors and has strongly advocated for approval voting in single-winner elections. 

In 2013, with the support of CES, Jameson organized a symposium on proportional representation in British Columbia. As part of his work in British Columbia, Jameson also focuses on the potential merits of other alternative voting systems. He argues that research in voting reform has the potential to be extremely beneficial for a wide range of democratic systems across the globe. 

“Approval voting will not only improve how representative elections are, but it will allow politics to shift towards positive movements rather than isolating people and opinions,” Jameson said.

Jameson believes that the key benefit of approval voting is its ability to promote trust among voters. He argues that mistrust in election systems and election results creates distrust and pessimism towards politics.

By reforming the voting method and demonstrating that elected officials are the genuine choice of the electorate, approval voting could help to rebuild the trust that has been lost under choose-one voting. 

Beyond voting method reform, Jameson is interested in how additional electoral reforms such as anti-gerrymandering and proportional voting can help improve democratic decision making. 

“In many ways, voting reform advocacy has been the common thread driving my career,” he reflected. 

Over the last several years, Jameson returned to his studies to complete a PhD in statistics at Harvard University. At the end of 2019, he successfully defended his thesis on inferring racial voting patterns using precinct-level data. He is especially enthusiastic about ongoing academic research in statistics and how it intersects with politics and democracy reform. 

Outside of voting reform, Jameson is also interested in other advocacy issues including education. He once helped to found a middle school in rural Guatemala. Jameson also enjoys playing board games and reading science fiction novels.