Some people worry that if their vote is counted as "equal preference" in the runoff they wasted their vote. Absolutely not!

Giving candidates equal scores in STAR Voting is saying that you like them both equally and would be equally satisfied with either.

In STAR Voting, "equal preference votes" are not thrown out. They are counted as the voter intended.

For an example, see the graphic below. This voter scored Carmen and David equally, and Carmen and David ended up being the two finalists. Their choice to give high scores to both Carmen and David helped them beat out the less preferred candidates (Blake and Erin).

For this reason, with STAR Voting there's a strong incentive for voters to show you honest preferences between the candidates and vote your conscience. It's part of what makes STAR Voting so resilient to strategic voting.

When should I give candidates the same score?

Whenever you’re considering scoring two different candidates equally, ask yourself this question: “If the election came down to these two, would I have a preference?” If your answer is yes, then score them differently. If your answer is no, then score them equally.

Long story short, if you have a preference you should show it.

Why does STAR allow equal scores?

The ability to show no preference between candidates you like equally is key to letting voters weigh in on multiple candidates. Imagine a crowded primary or election with 20 candidates. STAR Voting seamlessly allows you to score as many candidates as you like, even in a crowded race.

It's common for elections to happen where similar candidates with similar platforms run against each other. In the current system, the choose-one-only limit causes vote-splitting and can even leave a majority faction divided and conquered. With STAR Voting you can show that you prefer any of the candidates in your coalition over the opposition.

Note that in the current system we give votes of no preference all the time. The current system basically forces us to vote no on everyone beyond our favorite, even if we do have a more nuanced opinion. 

Benefits of allowing equal scores votes: 

  • Preventing voter error: One thing we've learned from the use of Ranked Choice Voting in real elections is that voters often rank candidates equally, even when it's not allowed. In Ranked Choice Voting this is a voter error and it can cause your ballot to be thrown out. In STAR Voting it's always allowed and these votes can easily be tallied as the voter intended. 

  • Consistent ballot formatting: No matter how many candidates file to run for an office, the STAR ballot remains consistent. No need to have a sea of bubbles or put a cap on how many candidates voters can weigh in on. Consistent ballot formatting saves money. 

  • No vote-splitting or spoilers: Vote-splitting is a pathology that's common under the current system and that can also happen under Ranked Choice Voting when a majority faction who runs more candidates can split the vote and lose the election. In voting methods that have this problem the more candidates you have on your side the worse your odds of winning are.

    In order to eliminate vote-splitting and the Spoiler Effect, a voting method has to allow a voter to show that they prefer all the candidates they like over the candidates they oppose. In order to do that, in practice, the voting method needs to allow voters to show equal support. STAR Voting eliminates vote-splitting and the Spoiler Effect.