Group believes changes to primary could force Seattle leaders to ‘start listening to voters’

Dec 11, 2021, 8:07 AM
voter, approval voting...
A voter hands off her ballot as King County Elections drivers collect ballots from a ballot drop box outside Seattle Community College on Nov. 3, 2020, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Could the way Seattle votes in primary elections go through a facelift sometime in the near future? Seattle Approves Co-Founder Logan Bowers hopes so, detailing his group’s push for what’s known as “approval voting” in a recent interview with KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show.

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In a standard Seattle primary, voters select one candidate in each race. Approval voting would allow someone to vote for as many candidates as they want, which Bowers says makes for a system that better represents what people actually want in any given election.

“It’s actually better at getting candidates that represent you by picking those as winners, and so you end up kind of in an even better spot,” he posited.

Bowers cites the recent Seattle city attorney election as an example of where approval voting might have represented a better system, where 12-year incumbent Pete Holmes failed to make it out of the primary, leaving Republican Ann Davison and abolitionist Nicole Thomas-Kennedy as the final two candidates in the general election.

“We had [incumbent] Pete Holmes, Nicole Thomas-Kennedy on the far left, and then Ann Davison, a challenger from Pete Holmes’ right in the primary election,” he described. “The system we have today eliminated four-term incumbent Pete Holmes and probably selected the far left Nicole Thomas-Kennedy in his place — under approval voting, we likely would have had a Davison/Holmes race instead of a Davison/Thomas-Kennedy race.”

Bowers believes that approval voting could also force city councilmembers to appeal to a wider base of voters, particularly in District 3, where Kshama Sawant has consistently drawn the ire of moderates and conservatives alike.

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“The challenge with Councilmember Sawant and other councilmembers is they can win their primary elections with 25% of the vote, maybe 30%,” he pointed out. “They only need a tiny base in the city to get through the primary election.”

“Under approval voting, that just doesn’t cut it anymore,” he added. “When you can get support from multiple constituencies, you might need need 60% approval to clear a primary. What that means for Councilmember Sawant and other councilmembers is they better start listening to every last group of voters, and they better start delivering for every last group of voters.”

You can learn more about approval voting at the Seattle Approves website at this link.

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Group believes changes to primary could force Seattle leaders to ‘start listening to voters’