Seattle voters to consider two new voting methods in November, what are the options?
This fall, people in Seattle will get to decide whether or not they want a new way of voting for local candidates.
Back in June, a group of former tech workers running a campaign called Seattle Approves got enough signatures to put approval voting on the November ballot as Initiative 134. Approval voting allows people to choose as many candidates as they want, with the two candidates with the most votes advancing to the general election.
Approval voting - voters may choose as many candidates as they want, with the two candidates with the most votes advancing to the general election.
Ranked choice voting - voters rank up to five candidates in order of preference, with the two highest ranked candidates advancing to the general election.
But on Thursday the Seattle City Council voted to add another alternative: ranked choice voting.
Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis sponsored the proposal.
“I'm bringing this proposal forward today to give voters the choice to choose the election reform that is more broadly adopted across the United States,” Lewis said at a special council meeting this week.
Ranked choice voting is used statewide in Maine and Alaska, and dozens of cities, including New York City and San Francisco. In contrast, approval voting has only been used in two American cities: Fargo, North Dakota and St. Louis, Missouri. Ranked choice voting allows voters to rank up to five candidates in order of preference, with the two highest ranked candidates advancing to the general election.
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda also supported putting both approval and ranked choice voting on the November ballot.
“Seattle has been on the cutting edge of voter reform in our country,” she said. “We are on the national map for the ways that we have improved voting and voter access over the years.”
Currently, voters choose one candidate in a primary election and the top two proceed to the general election. The move away from more traditional voting has gained momentum across the country as advocates have sought ways to make elections more equitable.
Here's how voters may be asked to decide between the options:
If approved, Seattle’s new election system would be used in Seattle mayor, city council and city attorney races.
King County election officials have said ranked choice voting would take longer to implement, likely not until 2027.
Voters could also choose to keep the current system as it is now.