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 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.
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?
Prospective candidates collect signatures to petition to get on the ballot.
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. 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 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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