On Tuesday, Tony Gehrig and Dave Piepkorn won re-election to the Fargo City Commission with just 18.4 and 16.7 percent of votes cast, respectively, in a race in which nine candidates vied for just two seats and voters were restricted to only vote for the two candidates they liked best. Votes for the various opposition candidates were scattered, and as a result, two very unpopular candidates, once again, managed to eke out a win.
This outcome highlights the need for approval voting in Fargo municipal elections. Under approval voting, the restriction on voting for only two candidates (or however many open seats there are for a given race) is lifted. A voter may cast a vote for just one candidate if they wish (or two, or three); or they may choose to vote for every candidate except for the one (or two, or three) that they most dislike.
Under this system, voters will have greater freedom and flexibility with their vote, and outcomes will be more democratic. Candidates will have to receive a larger percentage of the vote, in order to win. Unpopular candidates will win less often, and spoiler effects and vote splitting will cease to be a concern.
Reform Fargo, among others, are circulating a petition to get approval voting placed on the ballot this November for the citizens of Fargo to vote on adopting for all future local races. If you are interested in learning more about this system, or if you would like to help, contact them on Facebook!
Let’s build a more democratic future for this great city, together.
Scott is a member of the Red River Valley Democratic Socialists of America.