We recommend voting Yes on Question 1 and voting for Proposition 1B on Question 2.
More than ever before, voters are looking for meaningful choices in elections, with a strong desire to make campaigns less toxic and ensure that our voices are heard. To that end, two propositions appear on the ballot together this year: Seattle Propositions 1A and 1B. While both offer alternatives to the single-choice voting system currently used in Seattle primary elections, Proposition 1B, which offers ranked choice voting, is the most effective and most thoroughly tested method for increasing representation.
This ballot measure first asks whether either of the propositions should be approved and second asks you to choose between the two, regardless of whether you believe either should be enacted. If the first question passes with a simple majority, the proposition with the most votes from the second question will be approved.
Proposition 1A refers to Initiative Petition 134 to introduce "approval voting," a method by which voters vote for any and all candidates they approve of. In this system, the two candidates receiving the most total votes for office will continue on to the general election. Some community leaders have voiced concern over the legality of this system and whether it violates the one person, one vote principle. In places where this has been tried, some voters still choose to vote for one candidate so that they don't dilute support for their favorite candidate.
Ranked choice voting is backed by much more extensive data and research than approval voting. Ranked choice voting has already been implemented in 26 U.S. cities and states, including New York City, Maine, Alaska, and many organizations and countries around the world, compared to just Fargo and St. Louis for approval voting. In addition, progressives have raised concern about whether approval voting will give an outsized electoral say to low-turnout primary voters who tend to be wealthier and whiter.
In response to this initiative, the Seattle City Council and mayor proposed Proposition 1B (Ordinance 126625) which offers ranked choice voting instead. Ranked choice voting is simple - voters rank candidates in order of preference, and can rank as many candidates as they choose without hurting the chances of their favored candidate. If there is no majority winner, meaning no candidate receives more than half of the first choices, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and any voter who picked that candidate as their top choice will have their next choice counted, until a majority winner emerges.
Ranked choice voting is considered a more democratic alternative to single-choice voting by reducing the need for voters to make a “lesser of two evils” choice, and for reflecting electoral consensus. It has also been proven to encourage more women and people of color to enter races and win. If approved, Seattle voters will be able to rank candidates for city attorney, mayor and city council in August elections; in successive rounds of counting, each candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated until only two remain who will advance to the general election.
Vote “YES” on Question 1 to approve the enactment of either of the propositions and vote for Proposition 1B on Question 2 to bring ranked choice voting to Seattle primaries and strengthen our democratic process.