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A new poll asking people to choose all of the candidates they could support finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren with the broadest backing of any of the Democratic presidential candidates.

Warren the big winner in 'approval voting' poll

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the broadest support among Democratic presidential contenders — by a healthy margin — according to a poll testing a voting system that allows people to show support for more than one candidate.

Using what's called approval voting, the Massachusetts senator would have the support of 74 percent of Democratic primary voters, according to the poll, conducted Nov. 16-20 by the Center for Election Science.

Warren was followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, with 64 percent, and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 61 percent. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive frontrunner in the crowded Democratic field, finishes in fourth place at 53 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

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"Election reform only makes sense if it helps real people dismantle barriers and create a better future together," argue Jessie Fields and John Opdycke.

Push for open primaries in St. Louis is good for the country

Fields is on the board of Open Primaries, a national election reform organization that advocates for open and nonpartisan primary systems. Opdycke is its president.

Open Primaries recently endorsed the STL Approves campaign in St. Louis for approval voting and nonpartisan primaries. It's an important effort, not just for the city, but for the country.

We join local community and civil rights leaders including City Treasurer Tishaura Jones, Democratic Party Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge, the Rev. Darryl Gray, the League of Women Voters, Show Me Integrity and the Center for Election Science in endorsing this initiative.

St. Louis is one of only a few remaining major cities — New York, Philadelphia, Houston, Louisville, Indianapolis, Charlotte and Washington are the others — that conduct partisan municipal elections. It's a lousy system. Candidates must first win a partisan primary, and then compete in a general election. More than 80 percent of cities conduct nonpartisan elections and let all voters vote for whomever they want in both the first and second rounds. Like many cities completely dominated by one party, the only election that counts in St. Louis is the Democratic primary; whoever wins the Democratic Primary is the de facto winner.

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What Is Approval Voting?

Approval voting (not to be confused with ranked choice) shows strength in St. Louis

Supporters of changing the way St. Louis conducts elections are excited by new poll results showing support for so-called approval voting.

Nearly three-quarters of voters surveyed said they would back changing the municipal election system so people could choose as many candidates for each office as they'd like in the first round of voting — with the two named on the most ballots advancing to a runoff.

Advocates of approval voting are gathering signatures in hopes of getting a referendum on the ballot next year. If approved, Missouri's second-biggest city would be the biggest jurisdiction in the country to switch to the system, which is different from the newly ascendant ranked-choice voting.

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Center for Election Science

Hamlin giving a talk on voting methods at the 2018 Effective Altruism Global Conference in London.

Meet the reformer: Aaron Hamlin, the man behind approval voting

Aaron Hamlin is executive director for the Center for Election Science, which studies various ways to improve voting and has focused recently on approval voting. Under this method, people can vote for as many candidates as they wish, and the person with the broadest approval emerges as the victor.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

We study and advance better voting methods. We have a focus on approval voting, which empowers voters to choose as many candidates as they want — most votes wins. This addresses vote splitting, always lets you support your honest favorite, and tends towards a more consensus winner.

What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?

We use the world's worst voting method. It's really bad.

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