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Proposed Nevada ballot measure calls for using star ratings to elect candidates

Da Yeon Eom
Da Yeon Eom
Elections
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A proposed Nevada ballot initiative filed this month by an organization called Common Sense for Uniting America (CSUA) aims to “close the great American divide” by adopting a star rating system for voting. 

The founder of the organization believes the division in America is a result of the flawed voting method and says his creation, Max Voting, will be the solution. The ballot initiative seeks a constitutional amendment to implement the concept, though it’s described as “Division Free Voting.”

“Who Americans vote for is far less important than how they vote,” said Ted Getschman, a retired naval commander and gaming systems specialist who founded CSUA. “It’s not Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi or even dark money … It’s the unintended byproduct of an antiquated voting system.” 

Similar to product reviews on Amazon, Max Voting asks voters to express their opinion in a star rating system on a scale from zero to seven that reflects how much they align with a candidate’s stance on the issues. The voting method would award the election to the candidate with the highest average score. 

The proposed constitutional amendment states that voters do not need to score all candidates and that they can only contribute to a candidate’s average score if they indicate points, including zero, on the ballot. 

“Replacing majority rule with majority opinion rule would incentivize candidates to move to the center, in order to align with America’s steadying heartbeat, rather than today’s volatile extremes,” Getschman said in a press release. “It would change everything practically overnight.” 

Getschman was in the U.S. Navy for 20 years before joining the U.S. European Command in 2014, according to his LinkedIn profile. His biography says he created CSUA intending to end the partisan politics of the two-party system. Getschman did not respond to multiple requests for an interview from The Nevada Independent

Max Voting is within a category of preexisting voting methods used in certain areas of the U.S., such as approval voting and STAR voting.

Approval voting allows a voter to choose any number of candidates they like, and leads to a single winner with the greatest number of favorable opinions. The voting method is practiced in municipal races in Fargo, North Dakota, and St. Louis, Missouri. 

STAR voting, or Score Then Automatic Runoff voting, refers to a system through which voters rate candidates on a scale of zero to five. The two finalists with the highest scores are selected for a “runoff,” in which the finalist who has the higher score on the most ballots ultimately wins. STAR voting is widely used in Oregon. 

Getschman’s video on the organization’s website said that once the initiative garners support from about 3 percent of the population, the organization will poll the supporters to ask them what form of a Max Voting system they prefer. Whether it’s Approval Voting or STAR Voting, Getschman says as long as it’s a Max Voting method, it will be an improvement. 

The organization said filing the ballot initiative in Nevada is the first step in a larger state-by-state effort to update America’s voting process, and it’s aiming to gain support from a quarter of each state’s population. 

To qualify for the Nevada ballot, supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment will need about 150,000 valid signatures before June 21, 2022. If the initiative prevails on the ballot this year, then it will need to win again at the next general election to become part of the state’s constitution. 

In Nevada, 892 voters — less than 1 percent — have registered their support online to change the voting method so far. 

He said in the video that even if the organization doesn’t get enough support from registered voters by June, he plans to continue the effort in the future. 

“We could heal the political division in America, and nobody would have to change their minds about anything,” Getschman added. “In most states, we wouldn’t even have to reprint the ballot forms.” 

The proposal isn’t the only one in Nevada seeking to move beyond the traditional system where people vote for a single candidate in a race. Last November, the Institute for Political Innovation filed a proposed ballot initiative to transform Nevada’s election system by moving to open primaries with a ranked-choice general election system. The proposed ballot initiative is pending as it requires close to 150,000 valid signatures from registered voters. 

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