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Fargo could be first city to use 'approval voting'

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Photo credit: MGN2 / 2

FARGO — Fargo could be the first city in the country to switch to what's called "approval voting."

The proposal would be just for city elections.

With the current voting system, if one seat is open you can vote for only one person.

Sometimes people will vote for a candidate who's a combination of who they kind of want to win and who they think will probably get more votes.

This can sometimes discourage them from voting for who they really support.

With approval voting, you can vote for however many people you want, and the person with the most votes will still win.

Monday night, the Fargo commission heard public input, much of which came from an election task force that's been looking into the possible change.

They say Fargo's election equipment can easily make the switch with little cost.

If the city does decide to move to approval voting, it would be the first in the nation to do so.

"No voting system is without problems," says Zac Echola of Fargo. "But the one we use seems to be the worst. I know there's a fear as North Dakotans about being the first, but there are groups in Texas, Nebraska, Virginia and Oregon that are looking into these sorts of changes."

Also Monday, the election task force suggested Fargo add two more commission seats, and possibly put in a ward system.

The commission is now looking for more public input.

By May 1, they plan to decide if they'll put the possible switch to a vote in the June 2018 election.

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