Jaimes Brown is the Libertarian candidate for governor of Colorado. He is an outspoken advocate of electoral and political reform, and one of the few candidates for elected office who calls for the implementation of approval voting in the United States. I recently contacted Mr. Brown via email and asked him a few questions about alternative voting methods and why he thinks approval voting is superior to plurality voting and instant runoff voting. He kindly obliged. . . .TPID: Among those who advocate alternative voting methods, many call for the implementation of instant runoff voting. But you do not. What are the drawbacks of IRV on your view?
Brown: Instant runoff voting (IRV) also causes 2-party domination. IRV is much more complicated and expensive to implement than Approval Voting. IRV leads to higher voter-error and ballot spoilage rates. IRV generally requires changes to voting equipment, and consulting companies to count the ballots. In contrast to that, Approval Voting is simple to count, and can be handled with any existing voting equipment. The complexity of IRV makes it difficult to assure honest elections. In particular, ballots cannot be counted in precincts, thus reducing election transparency and enabling fraud.
TPID: Why do you advocate approval voting instead? What is approval voting?Brown: Approval voting is more indicative of voters’ actual preferences and is more easily implemented. Approval voting is “approving” all the candidates the voter approves of. With the Nader/Gore model, let’s say there were 4 candidates on the ballot: Bush (R), Gore (D), Nader (G) and Browne (L).Those who favor Nader could have approved of Gore also so their vote wasn’t “wasted” on the candidate who best represented them. Those who favored fiscal responsibility could have voted for Browne and also approved of Bush in hopes that Bush was fiscally conservative (which only history could prove he wasn’t). These are just examples. The reality is that our individual opinions are diverse and dynamic and approval voting accounts for our diversity . . .TPID: Do you have plans to continue this advocacy beyond the gubernatorial campaign? What is your advice to others who would like to see the implementation of approval voting?
Brown: Absolutely, it’s not about me, it’s about liberty. I find it offensive that the two parties have spoiled the whole system and they have the audacity to label anyone with a fresh approach as “spoilers”! My advice would be to continue to point out to all political parties, independents, and citizens that we all win by implementing approval voting. Democrats would have been better off with it in 2000, Republicans would be better off with it in the 2010 Colorado Governor election. The people are better off with it because we will get better representation. Isn’t that what a Republic is all about?
Read the whole thing. Due, in part, to Brown’s advocacy, there seems to have been an uptick in coverage and discussion of approval voting in mainstream news outlets and the political blogosphere. From Poli-Tea today:
• Late last month, Anthony Gottlieb profiled a number of alternative voting methods in an article for The New Yorker, comparing and contrasting them with plurality voting, and devoting a significant portion of the piece to a discussion of approval voting. The article sparked a number of interesting discussions in the blogosphere.
• Just a few days ago, in Vermont’s Rutland Herald, reader Ed Weissman argued that the people of the United States would be better served by the major parties if approval voting were used in the primary election process.
• And, finally, the Libertarian candidate for governor of Colorado, Jaimes Brown, recently garnered positive coverage in a number of mainstream press outlets for his advocacy of approval voting . . .
For more information on approval voting, head over to Citizens for Approval Voting and the Center for Range Voting, and be sure to check out Least of All Evils, a highly informative blog devoted to approval and range voting.