Letter: Approval voting can strengthen existing political parties

Originally published in The Standard Examiner | Letters | Jan. 6, 2022

Many Americans are dissatisfied with the political status quo that is dominated by Republicans and Democrats. Other parties such as the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, and the Working Families Party, put in the work to organize and nominate candidates, but they are unable to win elections. Even though 62% of Americans want other options, almost ⅓ of Utah Voters are registered unaffiliated, and those who don’t vote are mostly unmotivated by the two major parties, these other political organizations are unable to gain a foothold.

This is because come election time, voters worry about “wasting” or “throwing away” their votes and ultimately feel backed into choosing between the lesser of two evils. Minor parties have difficulty recruiting candidates when they have struggled to win elections. Luckily, there’s a way to break this cycle. By allowing voters to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on each candidate, rather than just ‘yes’ on one, voters would be free to show their support for other viewpoints. This is called Approval Voting. Over time, this system would show the true support these ideas and viewpoints have. You might vote for the Libertarian and Constitution candidates even though you don’t think they will win, and still select the Republican candidate. 

Approval Voting would allow fresh ideas to gain traction. Currently, Republicans and Democrats have been bickering about the same ideas for decades, while smaller parties with innovative solutions get ignored. Approval Voting has been successfully used in local elections in St. Louis, Missouri, and Fargo, North Dakota with most voters approving of multiple candidates. Approval Voting would allow Utahns to move past choosing the “lesser of two evils” every election.

Ben LaRiviere, Salt Lake City

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