FAQ

What’s wrong with our current system?

  • When you can only vote for one or the other it causes the voting system to devolve into a hyper-polarized us-against-them dynamic. In order to move beyond a two party system we need to be able to show support for multiple candidates.

  • Voting your conscience can backfire. This is why so many people are pressured to "vote lesser-evil"

  • Our current system is wildly inaccurate when there are more than two candidates in an election. Voter blocks who support more than one candidate can split the vote and cause another candidate to win unfairly. This is called the spoiler effect and it can cause a candidate who is opposed by the majority to win.

  • If you aren’t in a contested area or if you are in the minority your vote doesn’t make a difference. This is a huge reason why so many people don’t vote.

 

Is this just a 3rd party issue?

  • No! STAR Voting is fair to all candidates from any parties as well as independent candidates, unlike our current voting method.

  • Primary elections with multiple candidates often fail due to vote splitting, just like general elections. We all want the candidate with the most support to win.

  • Both major parties have unfairly lost many elections where they had the most support due to the spoiler effect. 3rd party candidates like Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are often blamed, but the voting system itself is the problem.

 

Why do we want to eliminate the primary?

  • STAR Voting is highly accurate with any number of candidates in the race so a primary is unnecessary.

  • Primaries have notoriously low turnout, which means that the candidates elected aren’t very representative of the people.

  • Because of vote splitting, primaries in our current Top-2 system often fail to advance the candidates with the most support. Advancing a weak candidate makes us more likely to lose in the general election. This has been a huge problem in California where recent elections have failed catastrophically- two Republicans were able to advance to the general election in areas that are predominantly Democrat.

  • Eliminating primaries could make it more accessible to run for office without big money backing. Primaries cost taxpayers and candidates a lot of time and money. 

  • There would still be a primary for Presidential races. A non-partisan multi-winner primary is an option for elections where that is desired. 

  • Currently some partisan primaries are publicly funded while others are not. This creates an unfair "taxation-without-representation situation."

  • Primaries help mitigate the vote splitting in the general election, but because that's no longer a problem with STAR Voting they are unnecessary.

 

How many stars can I give? Can I give candidates the same ratings?

  • Give each candidate a 0-5 star rating individually. You can give as many stars as you like. In other words, if you loved a few candidates equally you could give them each a 5 star rating. If you have a preference it pays to show it by giving different scores. 

What happens in the runoff if I gave both finalists the same scores?

  • All your scores still make a difference and help your favorites advance.

  • If you you gave both finalists the same scores that is a vote of no-preference or neutral. You like or dislike them equally.

  • If you have a preference you should give candidates different scores.

  • The ability to give candidates a tie is important! This helps ensure that any voting system is still accurate when there are many candidates in a race.

 

Has STAR Voting been used for elections before?

  • STAR Voting is now being used for non-governmental elections and votes. To set up a STAR election yourself go to http://star.vote

  • STAR Voting was invented in 2014 using the accumulated knowledge of the good and bad points of previous voting systems. This is our chance to be the first to demonstrate its amazing potential!

 

Is this the same as Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) aka Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)?

  • No, STAR is similar in many ways and different in others. This is an upgrade of RCV. STAR Voting is a hybrid of Ranked Choice and Score Voting that addresses the weaknesses of both.

  • STAR Voting adds up the scores in the first round and then uses the preferences to determine which finalist was preferred in the second and final round. So, the automatic runoff round essentially works just like a ranked choice instant runoff.

  • Although RCV is definitely an improvement over the current system, it has some serious flaws in elections with 3 or more viable candidates.

  • Unlike RCV, STAR counts all of your preferences on your ballot and allows you to show equal preference between two or more candidates which is key if there are many candidates in a race.

  • The STAR ballot allows you to show more information than a ranked ballot. For example, in IRV if you ranked a candidate as your 2nd choice there's no way to know if you loved them just as much as your favorite or if you strongly dislike them but prefer them to your worst-case-scenario. STAR Voting allows you to express who you prefer to who and also how much you like each.

  • More information collected and more information used leads to more accurate results!

 

Are you talking about fixing the electoral college?

  • No. The voting system itself and the electoral college are different. In order for every vote to be equal we would need to address both, but our focus is on the voting system.

  • The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is working on making the Electoral College more fair by awarding all electors to the winner of the popular vote. A group called Equal Citizens is addressing the same inequality in a different way, using the courts to challenge the constitutionality of the way most states award their electors. They argue that Winner-Take-All violates One-Person-One Vote and that electors should be awarded proportionally.

  • STAR Voting can be used with or without addressing the Electoral College and will make a big difference even if these other projects don't pass.

 

Is STAR Voting constitutional? Does it pass One-Person-One-Vote?

  • Yes! STAR Voting gives every voter an equally weighted vote and equal voting power! This is the legal definition of one-person-one-vote.

 

Is STAR Voting compatible with Proportional Representation (PR). Why not just start with that?

  • We are starting with a ballot measure to pass STAR Voting for single winner elections such as Multnomah County because it is a simple change and we can focus our educational campaign on the new ballot without getting into other more complex details.

  • Single winner STAR Voting is the foundation that future reforms can build upon. Proportional Representation is a part of the long term plan and our proposal for that is called STAR-PR. 

  • STAR-PR uses the same 5 star ballot and is recommended for multi-winner or proportional representation (PR) elections. It functions basically just like the Australian STV system but with a star ballot. The STAR-PR algorithm is simpler than the STV algorithm because scoring is much simpler to tabulate than ranking.

  • We plan to host community forums and collaborate with other groups before solidifying our proposal to change Oregon's multi-winner elections. Portland is a prime candidate for reform and there is a lot of pressure to switch to a system that better represents the whole city and not just the West Hills. If you'd like to be involved in that conversation please send us an email. Equal Vote is open supporting solutions involving PR or district based solutions, or a hybrid of both approaches.

 

Is STAR Voting vulnerable to strategic voting?

  • With STAR Voting honesty is the best policy. The best strategy is to give your favorite or favorites a full 5 stars, your least-favorite 0 stars, and to use your scores to show your preferences between the other candidates.

  • While there are some scenarios where you might get an edge by putting down higher or lower scores, in practice there is no way to know when this might help and when it would hurt. This kind of dishonest voting is more likely to backfire so it’s not a good strategy.

  • All voting systems are vulnerable to strategic voting to some extent. The question is if they encourage strategic voting.

  • Even when people do strategic voting STAR is still much more accurate than our current system and other proposed reforms.

Can we use STAR Voting for statewide and Presidential elections?

  • Yes! We’re starting local with twin ballot measures in Lane and Multnomah Counties while we build momentum doing outreach nationally.

  • STAR Voting is legally and logistically viable for America, including states where RCV is not.

  • STAR Voting would scale well for the statewide and Presidential elections where we need it most. This is only the beginning!

  • If you live in an area without a STAR Voting ballot Initiative in process please get involved with spreading the word. Voter education is a critical first step!