STAR Voting is a smart and innovative voting method for all types of elections. From single-winner, to multi-member, proportional representation, primaries, and general elections, STAR Voting is a great solution that levels the playing field and gives voters the freedom to vote with their heart.
STAR stands for Score - Then - Automatic - Runoff,
and that's exactly how it works:
Here it is in an infographic!
STAR Voting can be adopted for elections with or without a primary
With STAR Voting we could skip the low-turnout primary and just vote once in November. STAR Voting eliminates vote splitting and the spoiler effect, so it’s highly accurate with any number of candidates in the race. Skipping the primary would save taxpayers money, would save voters time, and the shorter campaign season would make it much more accessible for grassroots candidates to run for office.
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.
STAR Voting can be used for single-winner, multi-member, or proportional representation elections.
Every place is different, every population is different, and every election jurisdiction is different. STAR Voting is adaptable.
- Single-winner STAR Voting: Great for places where representative leadership, local representation, and accountability are important.
- Bloc STAR Voting ensures that the candidates with the most support are elected by ensuring majority preferred winners in multi-winner elections. Great for electing strong candidates and maximizing voter choices in areas where further subdividing districts just doesn't make sense. This is the 'majority wins' option for multi-member districts.
- STAR Proportional-Representation: Ensures that smaller factions can win seats proportionate to their percentage of the population. Great for maximizing diversity of ideas at the table. Great for polarized elections and gerrymandered districts. We do not recommend more than 5 seats in a multi-member district for governmental elections as low thresholds can result in decreased accountability for voters.
STAR Voting Delivers:
Honesty is the best strategy. Strategic voting is not incentivized.
Voters' best bet is to give their favorite(s) 5 stars, to give their least favorite(s) a zero, and to show their preference order and their honest level of support. In contrast our current system has strong incentives to vote lesser evil, strategically supporting the front-runner on your side who you think can win.
This kind of herd mentality voting is a direct product of the fact that Chose-One Plurality elections are only accurate when there are two candidates in the race. When we have more than that our elections become highly prone to a phenomenon called vote splitting, where a majority who fails to come together around a single candidate can end up divided and conquered.
Having more choices and more good candidates in the race should be a good thing, but in our current system, having more candidates on your side puts you at a huge disadvantage.
Highly accurate, no matter how many candidates/parties are in the race.
STAR eliminates vote splitting and the "Spoiler Effect". This is really at the heart of the matter, and is at the root of the many problems addressed by STAR Voting. The key to eliminating vote splitting is that every voter must be guaranteed an equally weighted vote. Any way I vote, you should be able to cast an equal and opposite vote. The system should not play favorites.
No parties, candidates, or voters are excluded.
The single non-partisan general election ensures that our most important decisions are made in the election where the most voters are active. Every voter deserves to have someone they support on the ballot and when voters have candidates they believe in they turn out in much higher numbers.
Every voter has an equally weighted vote.
Our current system does not give ever voter an equally-weighted vote in elections with 3 or more candidates and yet the Supreme Court has ruled that One-Person-One-Vote requires the "weight and worth" of each vote to be as equal as is practical.
STAR Voting doesn’t give anyone an unfair advantage.
Our current system gives major advantages to the two major parties, and yet when it fails due to the "spoiler effect" it often fails in favor of the more extreme and polarizing candidates. Other proposed voting systems are a step up, but can also play favorites. In contrast, the combination of the expressive ballot and the Equal Vote makes STAR Voting fair and equal.
Combats the influence of money in politics.
Solving the "spoiler effect" would be a big deal for grassroots candidates and those without big money backing. STAR Voting would eliminate the incentive to only vote for the front-runner on your side who has raised the most money. Rather voters could vote based on the merits of the candidates themselves.
Eliminating the primary would also make it more accessible and affordable to run for office. Candidates would only need to run one race, and could do the bulk of campaigning in the summer. It's much easier to connect with voters when the weather is good and people are out and about.
Even if your favorite can’t win your vote helps prevent your worst case scenario.
If your favorites don't make the runoff your vote can still make a difference! In the runoff, your ballot is counted again but this time STAR looks at your preference order, not the specific scores given. Your ballot becomes your one vote. Your full vote goes to the finalist you scored higher.
If you gave both finalists the same score your ballot is counted as "no preference" in that round. For example if you gave both finalists 5 stars, that is a win-win for you. If you gave them both a 0 that shows that you dislike them both equally.
If you do have a preference between candidates, it would be best to show it. This is an example of how STAR Voting incentivizes honesty, as opposed to our current system which incentivizes strategic and dishonest voting.
STAR Voting can be locally tabulated using the current process.
STAR Voting is "precinct summable". That means that STAR ballots can be counted locally, are easy to audit, and it's compatible with best practices for election integrity - unlike Ranked Choice Voting, which requires centralized tabulation.
Because STAR Voting is tabulated using just basic addition it is compatible with existing voting machines in most cases and would only require a simple software upgrade from the manufacturer. STAR Voting is fully compatible with paper ballots and works fine for hand recounts or risk-limiting audits.
Fully constitutional. This is a nationally viable proposal.
In some states, like Oregon, the state constitution explicitly allows for alternative voting systems including rating systems, ranking systems, hybrid systems like STAR, and proportional representation systems, but other states are not as lucky. For example, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) recently was passed in the state of Maine, but was ruled unconstitutional. As a result it can only be used for some races and not others. Many states require a win "by plurality" and don't allow systems where the first round finds a plurality winner, but that winner can change after subsequent rounds of counting. In Maine however, STAR Voting voting would be constitutional. This is because in STAR votes are not cast until the second and final round and the candidate who receives the most votes wins.
Ranked Choice Voting also runs afoul of One-Person-One-Vote. Due to the tournament style elimination process, some ballots will be "exhausted" and not end up being counted in the final round of voting if their 2nd or 3rd choices are eliminated early in the process. For these reasons, RCV doesn't provide an equally-weighted vote and can still fall victim to vote-splitting and spoiled elections.
STAR Voting was created to better accomplish the goals of systems like RCV while addressing these issues. With STAR Voting all ballot data is counted and your ballot is your one vote. Your vote goes to the finalist you prefer. If passed STAR would become the gold standard for One-Person-One-Vote; ensuring that not only is every vote counted, but that every vote also carries equal weight.
The combination of the Equal Vote, the incentive and ability to vote honestly and expressively, and the non-partisan election format means that we believe STAR is our best bet to combat polarization and end 2 party domination.
In our current system even partisan voters are getting the short end of the stick. Whether STAR Voting is used for non-partisan races (as is being proposed in Lane County, Oregon,) or if it was eventually used for partisan races like our presidential primary, STAR would allow candidates who best represent their voters to rise to the top.
Because STAR Voting allows voters to support multiple candidates there is no reason for a party to become divided if it has more than one faction with significant support. For example Democratic Voters could have supported both Hillary and Bernie and Republican voters could have supported both Trump and Rubio, to varying degrees.
This would allow similar candidates to campaign in coalition if they shared a platform and values. Preference voting in general has been found to encourage positive campaigns and to discourage mud-slinging!