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I'm excited to share a special opportunity to create a systemic impact: a statewide approval voting ballot initiative in Missouri. This would affect all elections throughout the state including federal and presidential. Approval voting favors consensus candidates and a more accurate representation of the public's support. This is critical if we want a government to behave in our interests on policies that concern our well-being.

The organization leading this charge is Show Me Integrity, where I'm currently doing a fellowship and assisting with fundraising efforts. Show Me Integrity has successfully passed a ballot initiative before, showing their ability to succeed on this kind of scale. They also successfully ran the ballot initiative for approval voting in St. Louis.

Why is this important?

Approval voting is a method that allows voters to select as many candidates as they want; still, most votes wins. Approval voting, an easy-to-implement system, can greatly improve our current plurality-based approach to electing Federal and state-level positions. If you’ve read my writing on this before, you’ve seen me make that case. And this is much more effective and lasting than putting money behind individual candidates. This opportunity may not come around again.

The Impact

This initiative is not just about changing the voting method; it's about transforming how we elect individuals to government office, from local to federal positions, in the 19th largest state of over 6 million people. This includes influencing presidential electoral votes. This is the first statewide ballot initiative for approval voting, making it a pioneering effort with potentially far-reaching implications.

The Ask

We are currently in the signature-gathering phase, a crucial step that requires initial funding. The cost for signature gathering is around $4M, with an additional $9M needed later for campaign execution. Yes, it's expensive, but the potential impact justifies the investment.

About Show Me Integrity

Show Me Integrity has a history of successfully implementing ballot initiatives, including a statewide initiative and passing approval voting in St. Louis. Their experience and proven success make them an ideal organization to lead this initiative. There is no better opportunity.

Logistics and Challenges

There are some challenges to be aware of. The competition for signature gathering means that costs could increase if we can't secure initial funding soon. This could also necessitate the use of different firms, which may not have the same quality. With timely funding, we can overcome these hurdles. Additionally, while the initial polling is over 60% even with opposition messaging, this support can change. Ballot measures can be risky.

A Matching Opportunity

To encourage donations, a generous donor is currently offering a match of $600K. This match may end soon, but there's a possibility of an extension. This is a true match, meaning the donor will only match funds that can meaningfully kickstart the signature-gathering process. $100K of this match is already being met by other donors.

Your Chance to Make a Difference

This is a rare opportunity to contribute to a significant societal change. If you, someone you know, or an institution is interested in supporting this initiative, please reach out to me at aaronhamlin@gmail.com. [Please do not use my old CES email.]

Thank you for considering this opportunity. Your support could help transform our democracy and create a lasting impact.

 


 

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Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 9:41 AM

Can you be a little bit more specific about the exact implementation of approval voting that would be implemented here? Specifically I'm wondering:

  1. Would party primaries be banned? (My personal view is that most of the harm of FPTP in the current US context is that it selects relatively extreme candidates in the primaries, as primary voters for each of the major parties tend towards one side of the political spectrum, and I'd worry that approval voting in our current context without banning party primaries would have much smaller impact than if party primaries are also banned.)
  2. Would there be a runoff election of the top n candidates? (IIRC, some approval voting in the past has had top-2 runoff, while others haven't.)

some approval voting in the past has had top-2 runoff

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_primary

The implementation keeps the primaries throughout the state as-is.

Right now, Missouri's primaries are "open" in the sense that you must vote within a party, but you can choose which party at any time. This would stay the same, but in both the primary and general, approval voting would be used. The campaign chose this system-wide change as the easiest option.

Additionally, approval voting would allow for independents to be viable candidates in the general.

Note that funding was not sufficient to be able to move forward for this campaign. Feel free to reach out to me for other statewide funding opportunities.

Sorry to hear that Aaron :( 

So just to confirm, there won't be statewide ballot to move Missouri voting to the approval voting system? Was it due to a lack of signatures or a lack of funding?

Following on, what are the prospects for approval voting in Missouri over the next few years, and what do you think EA could (or should) add to voting-reform efforts both in the US and elsewhere?

The funding to gather the signatures wasn't there. The main thing is just money and that tends to be why Irv campaigns take off instead. Money. Happy to talk with folks about supporting specific campaigns. Feel free to reach out.

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