for class depicts just doesn't begin and end on election day.
This is Sunday civics the home for the civically engaged with political strategist l Joy Williams on Sirius XM urban view.
Welcome to Sunday civics the home for the civically engaged. I'm your host your civics teacher and neighborhood political strategist l Joy Williams and I am so excited and happy that you've made it to class this morning. I'm gonna try to keep this a little bit upbeat because some of you listening for the rest of the hour may say this is the nerdiest conversation that I've listened to in a long time. And it's okay, it's okay, you know, I'm a nerd for civics, but some of this information I want to impart to you and make sure that you understand and know. And, you know, nerdy conversations are good conversation. So with all of the focus on voting, particularly voting restrictions, we don't often have enough bandwidth to discuss other types of voting reforms that we should consider. And I get it, we have to get the John Lewis voting rights bill passed, we need to expand early voting mail in voting, we need to increase funding for the actual boards of elections so that they can be properly trained and have the resources they need. We need to focus on election security. We even need to make Election Day a holiday. But there are other conversations we should have, such as ballot access and breaking this dominating two party system that we have, believe me, it is a source of a number of different ills. We'll talk about that later. I'm planning a show for that. But have you ever considered that perhaps we should also look at our voting method. And maybe that is something that needs reforming also. Now, I'm the first to admit I'm not completely convinced. But it's a conversation we should have. So what do I mean when I say voting method or voting system? Almost every state uses the same voting system called plurality voting. It's when we as voters go select one candidate per race on our ballot, and the candidate that receives the most votes wins. It's winner takes all. Now, you may be asking what's wrong with that? That's the voting method. My mom had been voting that way my daddy voted that way. My grandma voted that way. If it ain't broke, why we got to tinker with it, change it or something like that. But there are other options. So here in New York City, for example, we just implemented rank choice voting for our municipal elections. In this voting method, voters rank candidates in their order of preference. It's also used in a number of other cities across the country. There's also a proportional representation, which we'll talk about at another time. It's a system similar to I think that what creates the parliamentary system, but today we're going to talk about another voting method called approval voting, which allows a voter to cast votes for as many candidates as they want, rather than just one. And it's not used in a lot of places. The UN uses it to elect the Secretary General is recently passed in cities in North Dakota and Missouri. So later, we're going to talk with Erin Hamlin, he's the executive director and co founder of the Center for election science. It's a nonprofit that's working to get approval voting method implemented in cities across the country. And you know, there's some questions we have about that. What does how does it apply to one person, one vote, when you have people voting for all of the candidates? How would that be implemented on machines or on ballots and things of that nature? We're going to discuss all of that with Aaron. And of course, if you have questions or concerns, you can do some deep dive and do some more research on the particular topic. Like I said, not completely convinced that we need to tinker with change voting methods in a number of different ways. But I am open to the conversation, if it means increase participation, and actually increase engagement. We'll see. But Aaron is, you know, kind of convincing in terms of what will happen if you're a nerd like me. But just before we take a break, I want to introduce you to another mama who will appear on the ballot in Georgia. Shout out to my family in Georgia. And listen, Georgia is about like electing women, apparently, because there are a lot of candidates to consider not only running for, say governor or first state Senate or something like that. I'm talking about the Commissioner of Agriculture. That's Nikita Hemingway. She's running to be the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture. She's a farmer and she has a plan. And to eradicate child hunger and represent the interests of black farming communities, I wanted to, you know, share her vision for the department of agriculture in Georgia. And for you to hear a little bit more about her candidacy.
My name is Nikita Hemingway, and I'm running to be Commissioner of Agriculture for the state of Georgia, because the people of Georgia deserve better. Historically, agriculture contributes 70 billion to the economy. However, in 2021, we actually contributed 69 point 4 billion to the economy, which means that Georgia AG is losing money. And it's a it's an issue that we don't often talk about. But it is a very important issue. Because diving deep under the layers peeling back all the layers of agriculture, to find out where that decline is happening, we've definitely got to get a better understanding of that. And being able to help farmers in the states become more profitable. That is a major issue where the Department of Agriculture has filled in, it's something that is near and dear to my heart, and something that's very important to me, if I win my race, I will be the first African American and woman elected to this position not only in the state of Georgia, but nationwide, in the 200 plus years that the state of Georgia has existed, African American farmers have contributed to the success of this state. And we have little to no representation in the areas in which it matters most. And I believe this gives an excellent opportunity with my candidate seed my platforms and policy to bring to shed light on this issue. And also to bring representation that not only reflects all the farmers in the state of Georgia, but gives those who have been historically disenfranchised a voice in a space where it matters most. I believe the key to growing Georgia's future is growing Georgia's economy. The key to better health is access to better quality foods, the key to just building a better life, society, climate change, all of those answers can be solved here in the Department of Agriculture. So I am excited to step up for the people in my state. I inside it to lend my expertise, my knowledge to grow and serve my community. And so this race means more to me than anything in the world right now. Except my children so
that how does being a mom of young children impact your decision to run and and and quite possibly impact your decision making and leading in this race?
Yes. So my decision to run for Commissioner of Agriculture, and being a mother really starts from the heart of four years ago when my husband and I decided to start a farming operation of our own. And we both have deep roots in agriculture. We knew that we wanted to build a legacy for our children, and we wanted to celebrate who we were as individuals and collectively. And so agriculture was just the natural progression for us. It's so interesting in that we were both very successful in our careers prior to this, me being an entrepreneur and a realtor, my husband working in youth sports. And so some of the challenges we faced in building out that dream were somewhat unexpected, and it took somewhat of a different term. And that legacy means more than just the financial or the physical things that you can pass on to your children. Sometimes legacy means the ability to fight always showing up for not just yourself, but your community. So I'm very passionate about solving the issues in the state of Georgia, the fact that one in seven children are nearly facing hunger that bothers me and I don't sleep well at night, knowing that we have solutions here that can solve that the fact that we don't get proper nutrition, there are more than 1 million people who are battling diabetes and high blood pressure, and a host of other health related issues that can be solved or appropriately treated with better health through proper nutrition. Like these are the things that were on my heart. So for me it is about standing up showing up and that is the greatest gift I can give to my children. That is the greatest way that I can show them beyond the words of I love you that I actually love them and I want to build a better future for them and children like them.
So lastly, there are a lot of moms running this cycle and there are some listening who are considering running maybe this cycle or maybe next year. What advice do you have for moms considering running for public office.
So my first thought any advice that I would have for mothers for seeking to run for office is number one, go for it. We as women have found a way to navigate life by being the multitaskers that I'd like to say we were born to be what truthfully, we learned how to to be. And I believe what's missing from the narrative now is that nurturers perspective, the mindset that, you know, in order to move society forward, we must begin from this space of caring and putting people for it, and or putting people first. And that seems to be a gift that we as mothers tend to do. On a daily day, there are moments in my life where I have to remember to take time for me, because I'm often thinking about, you know, the things I need to do for my children or the date things I need to do for my employees for others. And I believe that servant mindset is innate to women to mothers. And that's definitely equality that every leader should have, whether you're serving on county, municipal level, state level, federal level, the servant mindset is very important. So from other young children, I want to tell you, most importantly, take time for yourself. That is important. Love on your babies, spend as much time as you can. But this is the greatest tool and the greatest gift you can give them and just showing up and bringing them along for the process because you are history, you know, in the making and allowing them to be engaged and to see what you're doing for the community. It's going to help shape their perspectives on what their contributions to society should be going forward. So
stay tuned, we'll be right back with more on Sunday civics.
All the problems, all the things that you think that you must do to stop being this wild? Like when the tea shop schoolboy and the comics gate? Who is the tea shop? I will let you know. Who is the tea shop? I will let you know.
Welcome back Sunday civics. I'm your host LJ Williams. And for today's lesson we have been discussing voting methods never thought you had to think about that. But yes, there are many different ways to vote, we're all familiar with the winner takes all system and some of us live in cities, and in communities in which we use different voting methods for the primary. But today's guest is actually working on implementing another voting method called approval voting. Erin Hamlin is the executive director and co founder of the Center for election science, a nonprofit working to get approval voting method implemented in cities across the United States. In the past three years, the organization has helped to get approval voting passed in Fargo, North Dakota, and St. Louis, Missouri. And they have a new campaign underway in Seattle. So I want to welcome to the front of the class for the first time, Aaron Hanlon. Hey, Aaron,
joy, thanks so much for having me.
Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I'm of course aware of winner take all I have, I'm also aware of rank choice voting, New York City just implemented rank choice voting for our municipal elections. And then, you know, we have caucuses and different you know, methods, particularly as it pertains to the presidential election, sometimes we get the, the tutorial in that way. So I'm really excited to hear a little bit more about approval voting, how it can help boost turnout engagement. But before we get there, we're going to start where we always start, Aaron, and I want you to tell me the story of your first civic action.
I think for me, like, Well, I I voted the first time I had the option to but I think like I know, in some ways, like well, I mean, it's an exciting experience. I think I didn't really appreciate a lot that was going on. And so, I mean, like everybody, I went and chose a single candidate from some selection candidates, but I didn't really, I think like a lot of people just didn't really appreciate what was going on at that point that like I was technically providing the least amount of information that I possibly could about those candidates, even though even at 18 I'm Dre had opinions about multiple at the cancer, but I didn't really get to express that.
Yeah, and it's sort of emblematic of like every a lot of experience. We've talked about this Before where you're told to like, yeah, you go register, go vote and you're like, but vote for who and why get what position. And usually people just follow along with their parents or, you know, something they heard, or maybe they saw a poster or something like that. And not really having a strong center in terms of the person that I'm voting for actually have a connection with I agree with their politics or what they their plan is for my community is based upon a lot of external things, particularly sometimes the first time you register and go and vote. So that that's, that's a very normal, like experience. That's not brought up a lot. So Aaron, I want to get to the meat of our conversation and talking about approval voting for someone you are talking to for the first time about what this means. How do you explain what approval voting is what this voting method is.
So I think like, all the times, we overlook the voting method itself, which is just the information that we put on the ballot and how that's calculated. It's easy to kind of overlook, like the whole point of this, which is we have some people who represent us and their view should parallel that of the of the electorate that they're representing. And they battle on the power. I mean, they, they decide the policies that govern our day to day lives, and they spend a lot of money and concerning our tax dollars, and there's only one instance when they can't ignore us. And that's on election day, when we're deciding whether they keep their seat or someone else takes their seat. And so, for me, like looking at this, if if we're giving the our tool wrong, like our, our main tool for being able to decide who sits in the seats, if that tool is broken, then we have some pretty big issues on our hands, because that's really the only time when they can't refuse to listen to us. And so right now, when we go to the vote, we have this really limited tool, this choose one voting method, here by different names, like plurality voting, or first pass the post. But it says choose one voting method. And it causes all kinds of issues. So like, if you'd like multiple candidates, you can choose multiple, Kenzie can't support them, you have no way to do that. And so you can only support one. And so as a consequence, the support for all these candidates gets divided and they get an artificially low amount of support. This can also lead to things like more polarized winners, you don't get the same kind of consensus winner. And then also in I think, like, in 2000. There are some interesting candidates in that election also like for the presidential election, that was the election when Ralph Nader ran. And for me, like, as an 18 year old kid, looking at that, like, I didn't think about any of that. And I think part of that was the environment where you're told, Hey, like, these are the front runners vote for one of the Frontrunners. If you vote for anyone else, even think about voting for anyone else, you're going to be wasting your vote. And that's triple these are some pretty terrible things. And approval voting addresses all those things in a very simple way. So with approval voting, you simply select as many candidates as you want. And the candidate with the most of the twins, you're not ranking or anything complicated, you just check as many as you want. The only difference on your ballot is the directions that just tell you to choose as many as you want. And so just one. And so if there are multiple candidates, and you like, can choose multiple of those candidates, if there's even a third party independent candidate that you like, even if they don't seem viable or likely to win, you could support them. And then if you there's another candidate that you like, that you think is more viable, you can support them to or not do whatever you want, you just have a lot of flexibility in a way that voters are, are really haven't been given the advantage for previously.
So you know, what, what does changing the voting method and when we're talking about voting method, we're talking about how you the voter cast your ballot. Right? So are you picking one person? Are you ranking? The people on the ballot? Are you as Aaron just mentioned, just voting for all of the choices that you want? What does approval voting solve? People would say we've been voting with winner takes all system, people think it's fair, it's something we've been doing for the longest time. Why do we need to change from that standpoint? What does what problem do we have that approval voting is the answer to
so I mean, this is still I think like within the winner takeoff system. So just in terms of Like, these are, this is big applied to single winner situations. There's like a whole other class of systems that deal with multi winner elections. But within but even with that, like the single winner elections control a lot of offices like you're talking about mayor, governor president, the way that we do elections in the US, you're talking about US House and Senate seats, same thing for the states, across the country. And like, really, when, when we're thinking about what a voting method has to do, like what its jobs are, I look at evaluating a voting method. And really three different characteristics like one is the winner selection, so are you actually getting a winner that represents the will of the people and the voting method isn't doing that, then it's not doing its job. And if it messes up, at least shouldn't do it go too far away from what the ideal should be. And then it should also do a good job of reflecting the accurate amount of support for each candidate. And then thirdly, they get should be, a voting method should be straightforward and easy to understand that shouldn't discriminate against voter education. So you shouldn't need a graduate degree or even a high school diploma, to be able to figure out how to vote in an election. And with approval voting, it really hits all three of those things in a straightforward and simple way. If you want to be able to support a candidate, like just like, right now, it's very difficult to do that, if that candidate isn't really projecting herself or himself as being viable, or worse, with approval voting, you'd like that candidate support that candidate, that candidate gets, get gets that reflection support, and they're not marginalized in the same way that they are now. And we've done independent studies as well. And also other researchers have looked at this issue in terms of particularly like looking at third parties and independents, that under a pool voting, they do vastly better under pool voting than both the choose one method that we have now, which, like candidates are lucky to get like one or 2% support, and also with by choice voting that where you rank candidates, and it really does a runoff to see who would be able to win and a final round. Even in that scenario, like you still like you see that in Maine, the third parties for the last election didn't do any better than they had done previously. And so really being able to get that accurate measure of support is something that our approval does, simply in a way that's easy for everyone to understand. And when you have a lot of candidates and in the race, it still does a good job of pulling out that consensus winner, because it avoids all that looks, buddy that we're used to with this choose one system.
So how does it change besides it changing for the voter in terms of them, instead of only being able to vote for one person, they can vote for all of the people that they like, and I'm thinking of recently, I'm chair of a pack and had to interview candidates, and there are like 24 people in a race for primary for Congress, right? And some of them have some great background and credentials. And you would that you could support them. All right, but only one person can do the job. And so I can see from an instance like that, where you know, out of the 24, you have three really like that you would, you know, check off and say either of these three, I would be comfortable with representing me in Congress or representing me in my local city council. How does campaigning change for candidates in an approval voting system? You know, in, say, rank choice voting, there have been times where people may link up and say, rank either of us number to one or two or things like that. Is that something similar that happens with approval voting? Does it fundamentally change the way a candidate can campaign? Yeah,
I think in a lot of ways, the the the current system really encourages a lot of mudslinging overall, with with a lot of systems, particularly I think approval voting as well. You have a lot more incentive to really be pushing yourself out there. In because otherwise, like, if you're able to support like a bunch of different candidates, and you have one candidate among say, a few that you like, and that candidate is just being aggressive to everyone else, you can think like, well, like, I mean, I'm not in the situation before where I'm forced to choose just one. And because I can choose multiple candidates and I'm thinking like, Okay, well, these other Two or three candidates, and depending on what the race looks like, it looks like they represent my views well, but it's other candidates slinging mud mud against everyone. I don't know, like I, I would maybe have reservations about how well that candidate would collaborate with colleagues once in a while it's an office. And so I think, with approval voting, there's a better incentive for candidates to be able to really do a good job, sharing their platform, sharing their vision for their city, for their state for their community, in a way that's not incentivized with our current choose one method.
I read one of your pieces on medium, I think, where you talked about what makes a voting method good. And one of besides, I think you said making it simple for the voter, one of the things you highlighted was having a quote, good winner. What is the good winner? And you talked a little bit about that, just in terms of evaluating candidates, and look, everybody wants, everybody says they want not a month, mudslinging candidate, and like negative campaigning. But people do it because it works with a small percentage of people in terms of showing differences between candidates. But what in your view makes a good winner because that seems subjective, right? Like to force your good one or two, you could be different than it is for me.
I like that. So when we're thinking about questions like this, I think it's really good to think about things from a very fundamental point of view. And I think getting at that really fundamental question of what makes a good winner is an important one. So you're like, we're a science based organization, like my academic background is in the social sciences. And a big part of that science is being able to measure. And so the way that we look at this problem in terms of like, what makes a good winner, I think, like, the quick way to say that is someone that is a consensus style candidate, someone that appeals to the broader group, and may not be a perfect fit for, for everyone. But on the whole, this is the cabinet that has the broadest appeal for everyone that the bulk of people find, at least acceptable. And also, it could also mean people are very enthusiastic about this candidate too. So the different ways that we measure this, one kind of classical way in voting methods of looking at this problem is a saying like, Okay, well, if we could have a candidate, and that candidate had head to head races with each other candidate in the race, which candidate would be able to win all those head to head races. Now, in voting methods are very theory this candidate, we technically call this a Congress a winner, this candidate who can beat everyone else head to head doesn't even always exist. But if they do exist, or when they exist, a voting method that tends to elect this candidate is a good one. And that also may not necessarily be the candidate who has the highest percentage of first choice votes in that in that first round, which is kind of counterintuitive. So, so one example of a good winners is a candidate who can beat everyone else head to head. Another example of a good winner is what we might call the max utility candidate. So what one innovation that we've taken with analyzing voting methods is we, we do polling and we asked respondents how they would vote in different voting methods for some selection of candidates. And then in addition to that, we would ask them, hey, if now, I want you to be honest and say how you would, how much you want this particular candidate to be elected on a scale of zero to five, and go ahead and do that for all the candidates. And so here we have an honest, what we would call an honest assessment scale, which is really a control measure. And so this gives us an idea of what each individual respondent has in terms of the utility level for each candidate. And you can add up all that utility, or value proceeds value for each respondent on each of these candidates, and see what that looks like from the population or the or the constituency as a whole. And from that, from that group level, we can see where the the WebEx is, like, what, what maximizes the utility for the entire group, or that or that community. So those are a couple of ways you could look at it from a utility based perspective. We could also look at it from this idea of someone who can beat everyone else, head to head. But these are a couple of ways of trying to figure out like okay, well, what are we talking about? like who the best winner is like, what does that mean? These are a couple of different ways of measuring that explicitly.
So leading into that I mentioned at the top, there are two cities so far that have implemented approval voting. And you're in the midst of a campaign in Seattle right now, talk a bit about how approval voting has been implemented. Are there any challenges to implementation it particularly in those two cities that are already using it? And what are some of the conversations people are asking about, or some of the questions people are asking in Seattle, as you're engaged in the campaign there.
So the way that we implement this, we have a nationwide chapter program, where folks who are interested in changing the voting method and increasing the democracy and the value of their vote within their communities, we work with them to be able to help them really be move along a path that allows them to to run a campaign. And we did that with the folks in Fargo and St. Louis. In both cases there, we work with folks on being able to support ballot initiatives. So they gather a bunch of signatures get on the ballot. In both Fargo and St. Louis. Those ballot initiatives passed overwhelmingly in Fargo was 63%. And St. Louis, it was 68%. The some of the challenges often come from folks who are currently elected. So in St. Louis, actually, the council itself tried to walk they successfully passed the motion within their council to oppose the initiative for approval voting. And it shouldn't be too much of a surprise, because after all, they're getting elected by the current method. And maybe they aren't real keen on the chances of like the risks that they would take by changing the voting method that will get them elected, they won't get elected with a new voting method. And so really, we don't ask them, like we asked the people themselves, we asked the voter because the voters are the people that we care about. And so while a lot of our challenges come from people with existing power, we, I mean, we talk with them, and we work with them. But ultimately, like it's not really dumb, that we're lucky to have power, it's the voters. And so it's really their decision. And fortunately, that's also where our support comes is from the community itself. And some of the questions that we got, like, for instance, like with Seattle, is thinking about, like, asked, like, who does this benefit? Like? What types of outcomes can we expect from this? So there are a bunch of different ways of implementing a pool voting with different types of primary styles. With Seattle, they would use an open primary with approval voting, and then the top to go into the general election, which is the same way that St. Louis does it. And, and St. Louis, the case previously was really challenging. There was all of those building and the black community previous to approval voting. And as a consequence, the mayor who was elected a white, somewhat conservative woman, Mayor, she, during the some of the protests in St. Louis, she actually doxxed a lot of the protesters revealing their personal information and names. And so really was signaling that she was not so much on the side of the voters. And interestingly, right after coverting, passed in St. Louis, by 60%. She decided she wasn't going to run again, which I guess she saw the writing on the wall there, that even as an incumbent that she was actually going to need to get real support from the people of St. Louis, and it just wasn't going to happen. And as a consequence, they're under a pool voting. The progressive vote wasn't split. You had progressive candidates, be able to move forward into the second round with them had overwhelming support. And as a consequence now, St. Louis now has its first black woman mayor, for city that can look to its mayor and see that she actually represents them because they had a voting method that allowed them to do that.
Stay tuned. We'll be right back with more on Sunday civics. How can they And welcome back to Sunday civics, we've been talking about the various voting methods and approval voting was something I was unaware of. I thought I knew them all, in terms of the different perspectives. But you know, for folks who are considering changes, mainly, a lot of the voting method changes so far have been on a local level, like municipal elections, do you see on the horizon, any potential change, or how we can chip away at federal elections and in the method there, and I'm not even gonna get to President because that's, you know, as I explained to people, like the presidential election is not one election, it is multi, there's many, many elections all across the country before we get to the one general election day in November.
So so the interesting with the approval voting as well, it's kind of I would say, like newer to the game, the it's been moving quickly. And so we like first had to show really proof of concept and get it implemented in its first city, which we did within a year of our funding. So we got approval voting implemented in Fargo within the year of our initial funding. Also, we hired our staff within that same year. So for those of you that are familiar with running organizations, that's that's Lightspeed or first baseball stands. That's ludicrous speed, and then getting St. Louis right after that. And so what we're doing here is we're we're showing that this is possible, showing this is a realistic goal, and then replicating and scaling that. And, as I mean, going into like a major city like Seattle, it's the 18th largest city in the nation, we're now preparing to move into states as well. And when you change the voting method at the state level, you also simultaneously hit federal seats as well. So we're talking about US Senate seats, US House seats. And I know, Dave mentioned the baby, not going into so much with presidential stuff. But you can do that when you when you run downstairs at the state level, you can change the way that our electoral votes are assigned. And so you can have the presidential election for that state also use approval voting, for instance, like RCB did this in, in in Maine, and they now use rank choice voting in in Maine for presidential elections, as I pointed out before, didn't really make a difference for the amount of support that third parties got, but they were able to use that voting method and the same for us. So when we're pushing approval voting in different states, which we will do in the future, perhaps not not too long, we can change the way that the Senate seats in these House seats are elected, and allow all the voters to be able to use approval voting in those elections, which I think it'd be really cool because the US has a lot of polarity within these federal seats in terms of who gets elected. And then on top of that, you just really never see a third party or independent, whereas with approval voting, I mean, there's kind of still have to be really strong, but they've got a shot in a way that they have never had before. So we're really excited to see this as in federal seats,
just adding one more thing, even as someone you know, I personally identify and not shy about personally identified in the current Democratic Party, but I always say that could change, right? Like it depends on politics, that depends on policy candidates presented before me. And one of the things I'm really believe strongly is that the hold that partisanship in terms of extreme parties and to you know, just two camps is not a accurate reflection of people's politics in the country. There are some people who are clearly in line Democrat clearly aligns Republican, but then there are, you know, millions of people who don't see their politics that way. I wonder your thoughts on even me being both feet planted in one particular party? I do think that we should sort of tried to be moving the country into a place where we have representation from various political thoughts and how that is represented, particularly in member bodies, like in Congress and state legislature. And what that would do to our politics overall, if we would say by proportional representation by approval, voting and different methods, be able to vote candidates not just based upon Oh, they're in this part. already, or they can win, or they have the money, so therefore they can win, but allow for various thoughts from other unquote, third parties, and they may have a rising, you know, population in the country that believes or centered around those particular issues, and what it would do to our politics and to our governance structure overall to allow space for that. I feel like people are scared, because we've only been in the either you're a Republican or a Democrat, and not like how other parts of the world are governing, with representation from the various political thought process.
Yeah, I mean, right now we have, I mean, thinking about kind of like the idea of like a marketplace of ideas within the political arena. Not, not a lot going on there, unfortunately. And there is. And there are all issues that, like the two major parties agree on where we're not getting as much variety of opinion. And that does, I think, like all of us a disservice. And I mean, going back to the idea of like the voting method, it, it is a surprisingly overlooked tool to be able to think about how we get our representation, and you pointing out multi member bodies. So I mean, in the in the US, like, there's a federal law that requires, even like US House seats to be elected the single member districts, and that negates the ability to be able to do proportional representation, but requires more time member elections, so that federal law would have to be able to change to be able to do it for us House seats, for US Senate seats, because they're staggered, within state by state that also necessitates them being a single winner. Unfortunately, that's a bit harder to override because the state runs partisan the Constitution. But US states like themselves within the state legislature, nothing stopping them, and then also move city councils, nothing stopping them from being able to use mortality winner proportional methods and for, for folks who hear that that term and like, I don't know what that is. That's okay. So the, but what that is, is when, like, normally, when you when you have the single winner elections, the the ideas like to do to get a single winner who makes up who does a great job representing the constituency as a whole. But when you're doing a more time winner election, you can maybe think, well, maybe the goal is a little bit different than that. So you could get, you could have like, a bunch of winners who look very similar and are right around that kind of consensus space. But another goal of the multilateral action, say like you're talking about a legislative body could be to have a little bit of a spread, mimics the distribution or population that the governing body is supposed to be representing. So mirroring their ideology mirroring their their makeup, that can be another goal, a valid goal of a multi member body in terms of like, what you what that reputation look like, and proportional methods, based on some of the math that they use, get into the details. So with the with the on that is able to mirror do a better job of mirroring the, the constituency body, so making sure that people are represented by people who look and think like them. And, and when you do that, it does a much better job of electing third parties or independents. And the reason for that is because these multi winner proportional methods, what they do is they lower the threshold support needed to be elected for an individual candidate. And third parties, I mean, by definition had less support than the major parties. And so when you lower that threshold for what they need to get elected, it also increases the likelihood that they are able to take a seat. The other component about that within single winner positions is that
there's this popular political science concept called divergence law. And it looks at two factors that are within a voting method that can predict whether a third party or independent is likely to get elected. One of those factors is that threshold which force representation does a good job of addressing, but you don't get that with any single winner, election or winner take all election. But the other factor is kind of a psychological factor, which is just saying like, can I support a candidate who I don't know whether they're necessarily going to win and approval voting is rare and that among single winner methods, it does a really good job of that. And so you get this positive feedback loop as well where a candidate even if they're not perceived as viable, they bring good ideas to the table. If they're able to get support, and maybe they don't need to win that election, but they get more media coverage, because they have a reasonable amount of support, and they're able to grow with their ideas. And the idea of popular ideas, being able to grow is not something that is really taking place as much as it should nowadays. Because I mean it, particularly if you're an independent, or a third party with these new ideas, you don't have the opportunity to to grow, really. But with approval voting, you don't have to worry about that. Because you can always support your favorite with approval voting, not the case with our current system. Also not even always the case with three choice voting. But approval voting lets you support these candidates, including third person dependents. And this is something that we find really robustly for these new ideas, being able to thrive and pace where they otherwise couldn't. And I think that's something for us all to be excited about.
Well, Aaron, thank you so very much for nerding out with me. And this conversation. You know, every once in a while I have to be a nerd. I have other political scientists on here somewhere sometimes, and they're like, Are you sure you just want me to talk? And I'm like, Yeah, let's, let's do it. So I appreciate for you accepting the invitation and being part of the conversation about that. And to give, you know, some some thoughts. Some of these are things that we've never been asked to consider, right? We've never been asked to consider the method in which we vote and whether or not there is a better system. And you as the voter, right? We always think about politics and government in general is something that happens to us. And then we only have a say so, you know, when election time comes around, not that we have the ability to actually engage, you know, before, during and after and election season and really, fundamentally change how the system works itself. So thanks for nerding out with me. And I look forward to seeing more conversations about approval voting. It's been
a pleasure. And for folks who are interested in jumping aboard, you can go to election science.org. It's really easy to get involved and we look forward to
seeing you. Great, thanks so much. Thank you, Joyce. And thanks to all of you for making it to class this Sunday. We'll be back next Sunday. With more of Sunday civics they'll civics lessons you need to take civic action have A Great. From running in and made God change