I've been thinking a lot about governance systems and how a certain governance structure may systemically reinforce certain behaviors. Specifically, it seems experimentally impossible for third parties to maintain legitimate representation without using a approval/range voting. Can someone explain why third parties & third party advocates aren't pushing for this?

Let's be honest - the Republocrat duopoly sucks for a lot of American citizens. So it seems in every citizen's interest (except for those guaranteed secure positions by the Republocrat duopoly) to push for approval or range voting methods, which can be practically implemented.

Note, that even both Republicans and Democrats would have succeeded with range/approval voting methods. Why aren't third parties uniting for their survival?

  • 6
    What makes you think they aren't pushing for it?
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 23:09
  • 1
    Many third parties are pushing for different voting methods. It seems like Range/Approval voting is really the best option for any third party. Range/Approval Voting is explained here: rangevoting.org/RangeVoting.html
    – user22886
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 18:25
  • 1
    "Republocrat duopoly sucks for a lot of American citizens", this sounds like an opinion. As in, how much is a lot? Is it enough that it matters? "Why is a third party not more powerful?" has been answered before. Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 19:52
  • 2
    To spare the feelings of politics.SE's duopolist users, perhaps this Q. might be phrased less provocatively?
    – agc
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 22:11
  • 1
    It might be better to ask why a lot of third parties advocate for Instant-Runoff Voting ("Ranked Choice Voting"), when it doesn't actually help third parties.
    – endolith
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 4:39

2 Answers 2


One problem is that people don't use it correctly. We have someone on this site who works on voting machines. The results that company was seeing were that people were only approving one candidate rather than picking everyone with whom they agreed more than they disagreed. When that happens, approval voting devolves to first-past-the-post, and obviously if we liked FPTP, we wouldn't want to change voting systems.

Another problem is that approval and range (score) voting don't necessarily pick the best outcome even when used correctly. See Wikipedia. They do not comply with either the Condorcet criterion or the later-no-harm criterion. Contrast with Instant Runoff Voting (which meets later-no-harm) or Ranked Pairs (which meets the Condorcet criterion).

Beyond all that, many third party supporters would prefer to be able to say that they wanted to support their candidate first. In approval voting, you can't indicate that you prefer your third party candidate to the major party candidate except by leaving the major party candidate off the ballot. But the whole point is that third party supporters want to support their best candidate while still expressing a preference between the two candidates with legitimate chances to win.

And of course it generally wouldn't make any difference. In most elections one of the major party candidates would win anyway. The real goal for many third party supporters is not to change how single candidate elections work but to switch to multiple candidate legislative elections. Because third parties can win seats in proportional systems like single transferable vote. And the major parties might break up into more ideologically focused factions. I.e. the Freedom Caucus and Main Street Partnership might split away from the Republican party. Same thing with the Social Democrats, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the Blue Dogs among the Democrats.

  • 1
    Interesting. Do you have more information (e.g. reference/source) on the wrong usage of these voting systems (i.e. the first paragraph)?
    – user11249
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 8:32
  • Interesting stuff. Yeah, if voters don't use it correctly, it doesn't matter. 1) Regarding the Concordet Criterion: rangevoting.org/AppCW.html 2) Range voting allows voters to demonstrate the preference of third party candidates to acceptable major party candidates by allowing for a relative rating. I agree approval voting doesn't do this, but its really a special case of range voting. Edit: 2) We should move to PR legislatures, but PR legislatures shoudn't be party based, but candidate based. In that sense, asset voting seems best for PR: rangevoting.org/Asset.html
    – user22886
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 18:22
  • 2
    @Brythan Later-No-Harm is a terrible criterion which any sensible voting system should hope to violate. It is the inverse of Monotonicity and cannot be achieved without giving up "No Favorite Betrayal" (i.e. voters are strongly incentivized not to mark their ballots honestly).
    – eclipz905
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 20:19
  • 1
    Condorcet criterion is only "the best outcome" when you're limited to ranked ballots. Rated ballots provide more information than ranked ballots, and can find a better winner than the Condorcet winner. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condorcet_paradox#Example
    – endolith
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 4:31
  • 1
    "And of course it generally wouldn't make any difference." It would make a big difference, electing candidates whose platform is similar to that of the average voter, rather than alternating between polarizing left- and right-wing candidates.
    – endolith
    Commented Oct 25, 2018 at 4:42

From Wikipedia:

Approval voting has been used in privately administered nomination contests by the Independent Party of Oregon ... It is also used in internal elections by the American Solidarity Party, the Green Parties of Texas and Ohio, the Libertarian parties of Texas and Colorado, the US Modern Whig party

Score voting is used by the Green Party of Utah to elect officers, on a 0–9 scale.

So I'm not sure your premise is correct.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .