How does STAR Voting help improve representation for marginalized communities?

1. By putting in the work.

STAR Voting Action, our c4 nonprofit, is led by women and people of color who were inspired to step up and take action because we feel unsatisfied and unrepresented by the political status quo. We do this work because representation and the ability to have an effective government that can get things done is deeply personal, and because we know that our voices matter. 


2. STAR Voting empowers voters to vote their conscience, supporting candidates they truly like at the level they deserve. "Electability" is a huge driver of implicit bias in politics.

Peer reviewed research shows clearly that with STAR Voting it's safe to vote your conscience -- unlike the current system (and unlike Ranked Choice Voting). Voters do not need to strategically vote and you should not give an unliked lesser-evil candidate 5 stars. Voters are strongly incentivised to follow the instructions: give their honest favorites 5 star, give their last choice 0 and show their honest preferences. 

In the current system, a big part of the problem is that voters face massive pressure to vote for candidates they think are "electable" so as to not waste their vote on someone who isn't viable. STAR Voting eliminates that dilemma. And as we know, the candidates deemed most "electable" are typically older white men, incumbents, people with big money funding, and those with the name recognition with major party backing. 

Women, people of color, younger people, working class people, non-incumbents, 3rd party candidates, and grassroots candidates are at a huge disadvantage in a system where it's not safe to vote for an underdog candidate, even if you like them best. 


3. STAR Voting ensures that your vote makes a difference, even in you're in the minority and your favorite can't win. If the runoff comes down to your last choice and your lesser evil, your FULL vote goes to the finalist you prefer and helps prevent your worst case scenario.

Let's say for example you are a voter of color in the deep south. The three candidates are Walt the White-Supremacist, Fred Family-Values, Paula Progressive, and Gary Green. You prefer the progressive, but know she won't win in this district. Under the current system you would have to strategically vote for the frontrunner you prefer. 

With STAR Voting you can vote your conscience and give 5 stars to the progressive, 4 stars to your next choice, 1 star to the family values conservative, and 0 to the white supremacist candidate. Even if your favorite can't win, your vote is just as powerful as anyone else's in the runoff. If Walt the White-Supremacist and Fred Family-Values both advance to the runoff, your full vote goes to Fred, even though you only gave him one STAR. Your ballot always counts as One Person, One Vote in the runoff, and your full vote in the automatic runoff always goes to the finalist you gave a higher score.

Correcting the Record:

4. STAR Voting combats polarization and elects broadly representative consensus candidates because it allows voters to show their full opinions, and polarizing candidates have a hard time getting the broad support needed to make the STAR runoff.

STAR Voting offers us a chance to break free of the black and white, toxic, us-against-them political paradigm and show more nuanced opinions. Then it uses that better voter data to find real consensus candidates and advance them to the automatic runoff.


5. STAR Voting improves accountability. Right now, if your elected leadership betrays you but you didn't vote for them, you have no leverage. With STAR, even if you gave them 2 stars, they care about your opinion and need your support to win reelection.

In STAR Voting, candidates have a strong incentive to reach out to all their constituents and make sure they are making your feel represented. In a close race it might make just as much difference for a candidate to move you from a 0 star voter to a 2 star voter as it would to move someone else from a 3 to a 5. 


6. STAR Voting levels the playing field so we would have better candidates running in the first place, and it empowers voters to have a real impact on the issues we care about.

STAR Voting allows new candidates to run for office without the fear of being branded a spoiler and being scapegoated for throwing the election to the other side. The spoiler effect is pervasive in the current system and it's a huge reason gatekeeping by political insiders is pervasive as well.

STAR Voting is also highly accurate with any number of candidates in the race, so it eliminates the need for a primary in non-partisan races. This makes running for office way more accessible. 

With STAR Voting, the campaign season would be shorter overall, and candidates would only need to fundraise for one election, not two. 


A few common points of misunderstanding corrected:

1. If a voter scores both finalists equally that is counted in the runoff as an "equal preference" vote. It is counted exactly according to the voter's stated intent.
2. In the STAR Voting Automatic Runoff, your full vote goes to the finalist you prefer. No matter what scores you gave the finalists, your vote is just as powerful as anyone else’s. The finalist with the most votes wins.

Read the Peer Review: