STAR Voting can be adopted with or without a primary
With STAR Voting, in many cases we could skip low-turnout primaries and just vote once in November.
Unlike traditional elections, STAR Voting is highly accurate with any number of candidates in the race. This is because STAR Voting eliminates vote-splitting and the spoiler effect, allowing voters to support all the candidates they like while showing their preference order between them.
Skipping the primary would save taxpayers money, would save voters time, and the shorter campaign season would make it more affordable and accessible for grassroots candidates to run for office, in turn combatting the influence of money in politics.
For situations where a primary is needed, such as partisan primaries or the presidential primary, STAR Voting can be used for either or both elections. A top five non-partisan Unified Primary is another option which is a great choice for highly competitive jurisdictions.
On Voting Methods and Larger Fields of Candidates:
- Choose-One Plurality voting is notoriously vulnerable to vote-splitting, and as a result, it can fail to produce representative outcomes in elections with more than two candidates in the race. Especially primaries. Candidates don't even need to be competitive to spoil the election in close races.
- Ranked Choice voting mitigates this problem, but can still fall victim to vote-splitting or spoilers if three or more of the candidates in a race are viable.
- Other alternative voting methods, even if they mitigate or eliminate vote-splitting, can consistently bias in favor of candidates who are seen as more electable, those who are more polarizing, or those who are more middle of the road, depending on the voting method.
- STAR Voting tops the charts in terms of accurate, unbiased, fair, and representative outcomes.
- Even the best voting method can't solve every problem. Elections with huge fields of candidates may be overwhelming for voters, regardless of the voting method. Studies on cognitive load show that humans have their limit. Most research suggests that we do a good job categorizing and sorting information with up to around seven candidates on a list and five to seven is the sweet spot, where voters have good options to choose from, but not so many as to be overwhelming.
Ultimately, the decision on whether a primary is right for a given election is nuanced, and there is no 'one size fits all' solution. It's important to remember that choosing the voting method itself and choosing whether or not to have a primary are two separate decisions, and each should be carefully weighed.
How would a STAR Voting primary work?
Each political party conducts a STAR Voting primary election. The winner of the primary for each party advances to the general election, where the electorate as a whole votes again, also using STAR Voting.
Note that each party has the right to determine if they want to allow non-affiliated voters to participate in their primary or not.
All candidates, regardless of party affiliation, run in one single primary election using STAR Voting. The top five candidates advance to a STAR Voting general election. As local laws permit, candidates may list their political affiliations after their names. Endorsements, including party endorsements, if applicable, are listed in the official Voter's Guide, along with candidate bios and statements.
Variation: The top two candidates from the STAR Voting primary advance to a Choose-One plurality primary. This may be a good choice in states like Washington where a top-two general election is mandated statewide and where a stepping-stone reform might be the best option on the table.
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