Yes. STAR Voting is is a nationally viable and scalable method that can be used for Presidential elections, either with the Electoral College or a National Popular Vote.
How Would STAR Voting Work for US Presidential Elections?
Currently, presidential elections are run by each state with partisan primaries or caucuses and then a general election among the top candidates from each qualifying party. Each state has a set number of electoral votes in the electoral college based on the number of US congresspeople in each state. If a candidate receives at least 270 electoral votes, they are elected president. If no candidate receives 270 electoral votes, the election is decided by US Congress.
Currently, all states in the US except Nebraska and Maine are winner-take-all, meaning that the candidate who wins in that state gets all of that state's electors. Nebraska and Maine assign their first two electoral votes to the statewide winner and one electoral vote to the winner in each of their US House districts. To protect the interests of individual states, this winner-take-all nature would not change under STAR Voting unless additional reforms are passed.
How would the popular vote be counted with STAR Voting?
The popular vote is used for determining party ballot access, delegate allocation rules, and national reporting of preliminary election results, especially for races that use different voting methods in different jurisdictions (such as if one state or county used STAR and another used RCV or Choose One). Under STAR Voting, a candidate will get a simplified “popular vote” from a voter if they are that voter’s favorite. This effectively converts 5-star ballots to Approval ballots for these purposes, where every candidate you give a top score (eg. 5 stars) will get a popular vote. Note that the “popular vote” conversion is not used for actually electing candidates. Candidates are elected using STAR Voting.
The total scores for all candidates would also be released, showing the number of stars received by each in the scoring round. Each candidate's average rating would also be available as part of election results.
This process is used to maintain simplicity for voters without hurting minor parties or reducing the power of individual states in national politics. If a National Popular Vote were to be used to elect the president, a different process is recommended.
How would STAR Voting work with the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact?
When the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) was drafted, no provisions were made and no clause was included which specifies how the popular vote would be counted in states which use alternative voting methods for the presidential general election. Because the NPVIC has already been signed by a number of states, it's too late to add this clause to the original compact.
The founders of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact have since recommended that any state which adopts an alternative voting method sign on to another interstate compact which would specify how votes in these states would be summed with each-other and with Choose One votes from the rest of the country.
Even states who do not plan to sign onto the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact should sign onto the Alternative Voting Interstate Compact in order to ensure that their votes would be counted correctly and fairly. If the the NPVIC goes into effect, this will ensure that votes from all states will be included in the national popular vote.
Alternative Voting Interstate Compact
- All states which adopt alternative voting methods would be encouraged to sign on to the Alternative Voting Methods Interstate Compact regardless of their National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) status.
- This compact would go into effect immediately, allowing national election results to publish vote totals consistently and accurately, including votes from states using alternative voting methods.
This compact does not change the way state electors to the electoral college are allocated, but does specify how alternative votes should be summed for states which may choose to assign their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
Vote Calculation Process:
Convert all ballots from each state to universal ballots using the "Universal Ballot Conversion."
2. Sum the universal ballots from all states to find the top two popular vote getters nationally, described here as Candidates A and B. (This includes ballots from every state and every method.)
- Each state in the Alternative Voting Methods Compact would then determine the number of voters who had a preference for candidate A over B or vice versa as well as the number of voters who had no preference for either.
- Assign votes from each state in the Alternative Voting Methods Compact to candidates A or B. These vote totals will be considered the popular vote totals for each state for the purposes of the NPVIC.
Example: If a state had 100,000 voters, and if 60,000 of voters in the Alternative Vote Compact member states preferred candidate A, 39,000 preferred candidate B, and 1,000 had no preference between them or preferred neither, then the popular vote for that state would be reported as 60,000 votes for A and 39,000 votes for B.
Why Count Votes As Proposed:
- Ensures One Person, One Vote. Every voter in every state, regardless of voting method, has an equally weighted vote. Every vote’s power is worth one vote.
- Ensures that voters in states which use alternative voting methods can safely vote for the candidates of their choice, regardless of those candidates national viability, without fear of wasting votes or an incentive to vote “lesser-evil.”
- Ensures that states which adopt a voting method which eliminates vote-splitting and spoilers do not have their presidential votes split or spoiled in the process of compiling their votes with Plurality votes.
- Would allow 3rd party or independent candidates to run and win (assuming they had the support needed,) without fear of being scapegoated as spoilers.
- Prevents states in the Alternative Voting Methods Compact from collectively acting as a spoiler, throwing the election to a less preferred candidate or candidate who didn't win the popular vote.
- Ensures that states in the Alternative Voting Methods Compact are never responsible for preventing any candidate from receiving 270 electoral college votes, which would result in Congress determining the winner of the Presidential Election instead of having the election decided by the voters.
National Popular Vote Alternative Voting Methods Compact Universal Vote Conversion:
The Universal Ballot Conversion is used to convert all ballots from all voting methods into one standardized total which can be summed to find a universal ballot count total across states or jurisdictions using different voting methods. After conversion, regardless of the voting method used, a designation of the best possible ranking or rating shall always be worth 1 point and a designation of the worst possible rating or ranking shall always be worth 0 points.
Click image above to read full text of this draft proposal.
Note: This proposal is a coalition project and we are currently accepting feedback. If you have questions or concerns or would like to collaborate on this project please send an email to [email protected] and request a link to the draft doc.
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