Press Releases

Diverse Coalition Brings Approval Voting, Nonpartisan Election Reforms to St. Louis

For Immediate Release:
November 4, 2020

Media Contact:
Aaron Hamlin
contact@electionscience.org

St. Louis, MO — On election night, voters in St. Louis, MO voted in a landslide to pass Prop D for Democracy, making it the second city in the US to implement approval voting for municipal elections. Approval voting allows citizens to vote for all the candidates they like, instead of choosing just one. Nearly 70% of St. Louis voters supported the proposition.

With the Prop D victory, St. Louis will move to nonpartisan, approval voting primaries with a top-two runoff in the general election. 

“Under our current choose-one voting method, the interests of most voters are too often put aside while politicians cater to a small fraction of the electorate,” said Chris Raleigh, Director of Campaigns & Advocacy for The Center for Election Science. “This new system in St. Louis will put power back in the hands of the voters and force politicians to actually earn their votes.”

The initiative received a broad coalition of endorsements. Among them were:

  • Congresswoman-Elect Cori Bush
  • The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis
  • SEIU Local 200
  • St. Louis Young Democrats
  • Our Revolution St. Louis
  • The Organization for Black Struggle
  • Action St. Louis Power Project
  • RepresentUs 

“I ran for office because too many of us are suffering every day from the consequences of complacent leadership,” said Bush. “This year alone proves why we need true election reform, and Prop D will empower more of us to go to the polls and increase our voter turnout.” 

The initiative was spearheaded by a dedicated group of young grassroots advocates. Graduate student Tyler Schlichenmeyer, 28, Missouri Representative Rasheen Aldridge, 26, reform activist Benjamin Singer, 32, and campaign manager Mallory Rusch, 34, led the effort.

“This is a great day for democracy and a huge win for the people of St. Louis. Prop D will let the people’s voices be heard like they haven’t before. It gives voters a say for candidates to make it to the general election. The people’s voices will be heard instead of letting people win with only 30% of the vote.” said Aldridge.

Historically, St. Louis has used partisan primaries to select local candidates where the highest vote-getter got the nomination, which is increasingly rare in US cities. In heavily Democratic St. Louis, winning the party primary ensured victory.

However, Democratic candidates often “split votes” between similar candidates, resulting in at least five primary winners receiving less than 40% of the vote in recent years. This problem was punctuated by a 2017 primary for mayor, where the winner received 32% of the vote in a crowded field of seven candidates.

“We’re proud to have been part of the effort to bring needed election reform to St. Louis through Prop D.” said Kathleen Farrell and Joan Hubbard of The League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis. “The candidate with the most votes should be elected to public office. It is as simple as that. The people deserve city officials who are responsive to all parts of our city and have a mandate to move St. Louis forward!”

Aaron Hamlin, the Executive Director of The Center for Election Science, congratulated St. Louis voters on the win. “You, the people of St. Louis, have signaled—with a roar—that you are excited to upgrade your elections to approval voting. You now truly have the power to create the kind of responsive government that you have always deserved. Congratulations! You are a model for every city in the country right now.”

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The Center for Election Science is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to empowering voters with voting methods that strengthen democracy. We support grassroots efforts to bring approval voting to cities across the country. In 2018, we worked with activists in Fargo, ND to help it become the first city in the US to enact approval voting. In 2019 and 2020, we provided grants to STL Approves in support of the Prop D initiative campaign.