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Advocates Promote Voting Reform as Way To Boost Environmental Causes

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Monday, October 5, 2020   

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Groups that want more civil discourse in this country are building support for a different system of elections called approval voting - and they say it could boost the fight against climate change.

In approval voting, people are asked to mark all the candidates they approve of, rather than just picking one. The candidate with the most approval votes wins.

Christine Morshedi is a volunteer with the Center for Election Science. She said the winner is then the consensus choice rather than the most extreme.

"In approval voting, you would end up with the choice that most people would accept, as opposed to a more radical that a small minority really, really wants, which is what can happen right now," Morshedi said.

Approval voting also injects a more positive tone into the campaign, because candidates have more of an incentive to appeal to a wide range of voters. The idea is gaining steam in the environmental community, which has been stuck a partisan divide.

Mark Reynolds, executive director with the nonprofit Citizens' Climate Lobby, said the fight against climate change is too important to be mired in the culture war between right and left.

"Our primary ask is to make climate a bridge rather than a wedge issue; use it as an excuse to work together," Reynolds said. "You don't get any durable legislation unless it is bipartisan."

So far, approval voting is not in use in any California cities. However, Fargo, North Dakota, recently became the first large town to adopt the system. And a measure to switch over to approval voting is on the ballot in St. Louis next month.

Disclosure: Center for Election Science contributes to our fund for reporting on Campaign Finance Reform/Money in Pol, Civic Engagement, Civil Rights. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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