May 19, 2024

STAR Voting: An alternative to plurality voting

STAR Voting Ohio is a state chapter of STAR Voting Action. As the organization becomes more established in the community, Chairman Duncan Siror looks to recruit women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. This way, the group will continue to grow and add to its already diverse group of people, ideas, lived experiences and politics.

Photo via the website of STAR Voting Ohio with permission to use.

There could soon be an end to rank-choice voting, or at least that is the hope of the Equal Vote Coalition. 

The Equal Vote Coalition is a non-profit group established in 2014 to aid in the fight to equalize votes. The organization’s mission is to inform voters of the negative consequences and flaws of the current voting system and promote an alternative method of voting. 

With headquarters in Eugene, Oregon and locations across the country, the Equal Vote Coalition is anchored in its five principles of voting- honesty, equality, accuracy, expressiveness and simplicity to “evaluate and advance proposals for better voting.” 

Duncan Siror, an IT specialist for the university, is on the board of directors for the Equal Vote Coalition and is chairman of the Ohio chapter of STAR Voting Action, Score-Then-Automatic-Runoff (STAR) Voting.

Siror was first introduced to the Equal Vote Coalition while he was living in Georgia in 2021.

He said, “Having voted in many elections, I recognized the limitations of our current voting system when it comes to selecting a candidate that best reflects the will of the people.”

However, since joining the organization, he believes that STAR Voting can level the playing field, equally weighing the opinion of every voter and protecting democracy. 

STAR Voting consists of “voters scoring candidates from 0 up to 5 stars, giving their favorite candidate(s) five stars. A voter’s least favorite candidate receives zero stars while scoring everyone else in between. If you like two or more candidates equally, you can give them the same score.”

“The ballots are counted in two rounds. In the scoring round, the stars are tabulated for each candidate. The two highest scoring candidates automatically proceed to a runoff. During the runoff, your full vote goes to the candidate you scored higher. Whether or not your favorite can win your vote can always make a difference. With STAR Voting it’s safe to vote your conscience without worrying about wasting your vote,” according to Siror. 

While there are some benefits to STAR Voting, some are skeptical of its usefulness. 

In 2018, Fair Vote took a neutral stance on the implementation of STAR Voting. In the report, contributors concluded the unproven track record, problematic outcomes and other aspects of STAR Voting do not make it a better option than ranked choice voting (RCV). 

“We have remained skeptical of voting methods that involve scoring rather than ranking (“cardinal” methods). When applied to meaningfully competitive elections that include campaigning, they [STAR Voting and other innovative methods] can be susceptible to simple voting tactics that undermine their utility,” said Rob Richie, president and CEO of FairVote, and Dew Spencer Penrose, FairVote’s law and policy director. 

Not without opposition, STAR Voting still strives to empower voters and move the country in a positive direction. 

In addition to utilizing top-notch research to promote true equality in voting, educate communities, and build coalitions, the organization also recognizes other reforms must be made to advance the cause. 

They advocate for fair districting, election integrity, and reject policies like outsized influence of money in politics, hyper-partisan rancor and widespread electoral disenfranchisement. 

Locally, the organization strongly supports the Citizens Not Politicians amendment, a citizen-led ballot initiative to end gerrymandering in Ohio.  

The Ohio chapter of STAR Voting was launched earlier this year. They host meetings at one of the branches of Columbus Metropolitan Library on the last Saturday of each month. During these hybrid meetings, participants engage in conversations about the voting reform movement and learn how to become advocates. 

Students can get involved by signing up for the newsletter or following the organization on social media at @starvotingohio. 

Students can visit https://star.vote/ to conduct their own polls using STAR Voting. 

STAR Voting is not the alternative voting method that has gained traction over the past few years. 

Multiple studies conducted by the Pew Research Center indicate RCV, “top-two primaries, cumulative voting and approval voting have gained popularity.”

The report reads, “In all, we [the Pew Research Center] identified 261 jurisdictions in the U.S. – ranging from the state of California to the Yoakum (Texas) Independent School District – that have adopted some voting method other than the standard single-winner, plurality system most American voters know.”

Overall, the voting rights movement, regardless of the voting system used–though some are more favorable than others–wants to ensure that all voters and votes are equally represented because such principles are paramount to preserving democracy.

Author

  • Samaree Perkins

    Samaree Perkins is a first-year 3+3 student with a concentration in Journalism and Professional Writing. She is a member of Capital's women's volleyball and basketball teams. She is also the Public Relations Chair of the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee and PCA with the Office of Career Development. In the future, Samaree hopes to attend law school and become a judge.

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