STAR Voting can be adopted for elections
with or without a primary
With STAR Voting, in many cases we could skip low-turnout primaries 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 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.
NOTE 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.
Ranked Choice voting mitigates this problem in some cases, but can still fall victim to vote-splitting or spoilers if there are three or more viable candidates in a race.
Other voting methods may eliminate vote splitting, but may still consistently bias in favor of certain types of candidates.
STAR Voting tops the charts in terms of accurate and representative outcomes.
Still, even the best voting method can't solve every problem. Studies on cognitive load show that humans have their limit, and most research suggests that we do a good job categorizing and sorting information with up to around seven options on a list. Five to seven candidates 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 that would be ideal in every situation. 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.
What would a STAR Voting primary election look like?
Primary elections can advance one, two, or multiple candidates to a general election. If two or more candidates would advance, simple multi-winner Bloc STAR Voting would be used.
Option 1: STAR Voting to elect a party nominee in a partisan primary
In this scenario, conventionally speaking, only one nominee is selected from each party. That said, if STAR Voting is also going to be used for the general election there is no reason to not to advance two candidates from each party. STAR Voting can eliminate or reduce the need for a party to strategically 'cull the herd,' and allowing more than one candidate to go forward may ensure that a consensus candidate who would win doesn't get eliminated too early in the process.
Option 2: STAR Voting for a non-partisan primary
In competitive elections which often see a lot of candidates stepping up to the plate, STAR Voting can be a good choice for a non-partisan primary. The details can be adjusted, but one example might have the top 3 candidates all advancing to the general election.
Option 3: STAR Voting for partisan primaries
In this option candidates from each qualifying party would advance to the general election. Parties have the right to determine if they want to allow non-affiliated voters to participate or not.
Option 4: STAR Voting for a Unified Primary
In this option candidates from all the parties could run in one single primary election. Voters would be able to vote on all candidates regardless of their political affiliation. There are a few ways this could be carried out, and the primary could advance any number of candidates to the general election.
Version 1: The top candidates from each political party advance to the general election, which would also use STAR Voting.
Version 2: The top 5 candidates advance to the general election, which would also use STAR Voting, as well as the top candidate from each qualifying party.
Version 3: The top 2 candidates advance to a Choose-One plurality primary. This may be a good choice in states like Washington where a top-2 general election is mandated statewide and where a stepping-stone reform might be the best option on the table.