approval voting

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Approval voting can be considered a form of range voting, with the range restricted to two values, 0 and 1—or a form of majority judgment, with grades restricted to good and poor. Approval Voting can also be compared to plurality voting, without the rule that discards ballots that vote for more than one candidate.

By treating each candidate as a separate question, “Do you approve of this person for the job?” approval voting lets each voter indicate support for one, some, or all candidates. All votes count equally, and everyone gets the same number of votes: one vote per candidate, either for or against. Final tallies show how many voters support each candidate, and the winner is the candidate whom the most voters support.

Approval voting ballots show, for each office being contested, a list of the candidates running for that seat. Next to each name is a checkbox, or another similar way to mark “Yes” or “No” for that candidate. This “check yes or no” approach means approval voting provides one of the simplest ballots for a voter to understand.

Ballots on which the voter marked every candidate the same (whether yes or no) have no effect on the outcome of the election. Each ballot can, therefore, be viewed as a small “delta” that separates two groups of candidates: those supported and those that are not. Each candidate approved is considered preferred to any candidate not approved, while the voter’s preferences among approved candidates is unspecified, and likewise the voter’s preferences among unapproved candidates is also unspecified.

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