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Letter: As reps of the League of Women Voters, we oppose ND bill that would ban approval voting

This letter was originally published by The Forum.

The League of Women Voters of North Dakota encourages voting methods that provide the broadest voter representation possible and are expressive of voter choices. LWVND also supports legislation to allow local jurisdictions to explore alternative voting methods.

That is why LWVND strongly opposes House Bill 1273 because it does just the opposite - it would prohibit North Dakota cities and counties from adopting alternative voting methods and prevent voters from accurately expressing their preferences and electing the strongest candidate.

One example of an alternative voting method is approval voting, embraced by Fargo citizens in 2018 when they voted 63.52% to 36.48% to amend the city charter to implement approval voting. In approval voting, voters choose as many candidates as they want and the candidate with the most votes wins.

Prior to the use of approval voting, Fargo city leaders were being elected by plurality voting in which some leaders were being elected with less than 20% of the vote. Approval voting was used in Fargo elections in 2020 and 2022 with great success, and House Bill 1273 would no longer allow Fargo residents to use this electoral method which they approved and have already used.

Voters are frustrated with our current political climate - how polarized we’ve become, the limited viable options in our current voting system, the negative campaigning, and the lack of diverse representation. At a time when voters across the political spectrum may be feeling that our democratic institutions are not working well, we should support any opportunity to make our elections more efficient, inclusive, and representative.

Barbara Headrick is president and Mary Tintes is vice president of the League of Women Voters of North Dakota.