Every place is different, every population is different, and every election jurisdiction is different. STAR Voting is adaptable.

Depending on the number of winners in a given election and the type of representation you are looking for there are three main types of STAR Voting which can be selected for electing leadership.

All three types of STAR Voting use the same familiar 5 star ballot, and all three encourage the same honest and expressive voting behavior. Single-winner, multi-winner, and proportional representation each have their advantages and best applications, so weigh the options carefully and consider what features are your top priorities.

What type of STAR Voting is right for each election?


Single-winner STAR:

Score candidates 0-5. The two highest-scoring candidates are finalists. The finalist preferred (scored higher) by more voters wins.

Single-winner STAR Voting is ideal for single-winner district elections, some councils or legislatures, and for executive offices like mayors, governors, and presidential elections.

  • Ensures that the candidates with the most support are elected by ensuring majority preferred winners.
  • Maximizes local representation for people in a given district.
  • Ensures that each area has a specific representative they can contact, keep track of, and hold accountable.
  • Ensures accountability. A majority of voters opposed to a given candidate could vote them out if needed.
  • Smaller single-winner districts are easier to campaign in, especially for candidates who prioritize door knocking and being engaged in the community they plan to represent.
  • Single winner district elections also minimize the number of candidates competing against each-other, so drawing distinctions can be easier for both voters and candidates.
  • Prevents overly large fields of candidates in any one district, which can lead to low-information voting. 
  • For single-winner elections where multiple people will be elected to sit on a single governing body, choosing single-winner over at-large elections helps promote more diverse representation, particularly in places where districts are demographically or ideologically diverse.

Multi-winner Bloc STAR: 

Single-winner STAR determines the first winner, and the same process is repeated to determine the second winner, and so on, until all seats are filled.

Bloc STAR is a great choice for use in multi-member districts and for multi-winner elections where the goal is to elect or advance majority preferred winners with the strongest popular support overall. Single winner elections are the best for ensuring local representation but Bloc STAR may be the best choice where further subdividing an area or electorate wouldn't make sense, or for elected bodies where geographic representation is not relevant.

  • Ideal for primaries which aim to advance the top set of candidates.
  • Great for multi-winner elections where the goal is to elect a council where each winner has majority support.
  • Ensures that the candidates with the strongest popular support are elected.
  • Maximizes accountability. A majority of voters opposed to a given candidate could vote them out or prevent them from getting elected in the first place.
  • Gives voters more candidates to choose from than single-winner elections, which can be a real advantage in smaller communities where finding candidates to run at all is a problem.
  • Balances some of the pros and cons between proportional and single winner elections offering an option in the middle.
  • Multi-winner Bloc STAR may be an end goal in some cases, but is also a good stepping-stone reform for those working towards proportional representation.

Warning against At Large Elections: Even with Bloc STAR, at large elections should never be used in jurisdictions with localized historically marginalized communities. This is especially important in jurisdictions where minority populations or factions are clustered in one sector of a multi-seat district. At-large bloc voting in general can and has been used to prevent minority populations from getting representation who would have otherwise been able to win representation in a single-winner district, and was banned in the Voting Rights Act for this reason. 

Proportional STAR:

Five star ballots are filled out as above and then are tallied for proportional representation.

Proportional STAR is for multi-winner elections where the goal is to elect a diverse body. Proportional representation ensures that factions are represented proportionate to the number of voters supporting each. If there are three winners in a multi-member district, then a candidate will need to be supported by a third of the electorate to earn a seat.

Winners in Proportional STAR Voting are selected in rounds. Each round elects the candidate with the highest total score, and then designates a quota worth of that candidates strongest supporters as represented. (In the example above the quota would be a third of the voters.) Subsequent rounds include ballots all voters who are not yet fully represented and the process repeats until all seats have been filled. 

  • Ensures that smaller factions can win representation, even without majority support.
  • Great for maximizing diversity of ideas at the table.
  • Great for polarized electorates and jurisdictions which often swing between being controlled by one party and then another.
  • Helps combat the impacts of gerrymandered districts by reducing the number of district lines. 
  • Proportional STAR Voting is simpler to tabulate than Single Transferable Vote (the proportional Ranked Choice method), but proportional representation in general is more complex than single-winner or multi-winner bloc elections. 
  • The number of seats available in each multi-member district determines the size of faction which will be able to win. Increasing the number of seats increases the diversity of the winner set, but decreases geographical representation and accountability for the winners once elected. 

Read more about multi-winner and proportional elections. 

Learn more about proportional representation in general.

Learn more about STAR-PR.