Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Approval Voting

Approval voting is an electoral system that allows voters to express support for as many candidates as they wish, rather than being limited to selecting just one. Under this system, voters simply mark the candidates that they approve of on their ballot, and the candidate with the most votes wins the election.

One of the main advantages of approval voting is that it allows voters to support multiple candidates without worrying about "wasting" their vote or splitting the vote in a way that could benefit the candidate they like the least. This can be particularly appealing to supporters of independent or third party candidates, who may feel that the two major parties do not adequately represent their views.

There are a few examples of approval voting in action. In 2018, Fargo, North Dakota became the first city in the United States to use approval voting in a municipal election. According to a survey conducted by FairVote, a majority of Fargo voters found the system easy to use and preferred it to the traditional first-past-the-post system.

Other places that have experimented with approval voting include the city of St. Louis, Missouri, as well as a number of professional societies and organizations. In these cases, approval voting has been credited with helping to promote more diverse and representative leadership, as it allows voters to support candidates from a range of different backgrounds and perspectives.

Overall, approval voting is an innovative and flexible electoral system that gives voters more control over their ballots and allows them to express support for multiple candidates if they choose. By breaking free from the constraints of the traditional two-party system, it can help to promote greater diversity and representation in the political process.

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR)

Automatic voter registration (AVR) is a system that automatically registers eligible citizens to vote when they interact with certain government agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles or a social services office. The goal of AVR is to increase voter turnout and eliminate barriers to voting, such as the need to manually register. Under AVR, eligible citizens are registered to vote unless they opt out. This is in contrast to traditional voter registration systems, in which citizens must actively register to vote.

AVR can also improve the accuracy of voter rolls by linking voter registration information to existing government databases, such as those used to issue driver's licenses or ID cards. This can help to prevent errors and reduce the potential for voter fraud. Additionally, AVR can help to increase voter turnout by making it easier for eligible citizens to register to vote. This can help to ensure that more citizens are able to participate in the democratic process, regardless of their political affiliation.

However, it's important to note that automatic voter registration alone doesn't guarantee that every citizen will vote, or that every vote will be counted. Additionally, AVR doesn't address any issues related to redistricting or gerrymandering, which can also impact voter turnout and representation.

Overall, automatic voter registration is a system that aims to increase voter turnout and eliminate barriers to voting by automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they interact with certain government agencies, unless they opt out.