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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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Voters in Missouri who do not have a photo ID may show another forum of identification, such as a utility bill, as long as they sign an affidavit.

Missouri's voter ID law challenged as unfair, defended as badly written

Is a central piece of the Missouri voter identification law in line with the state's constitution? The Missouri Supreme Court is on course to deciding.

The provision at issue permits those who arrive at the polls without a photo ID to substitute another form of identification, like a utility bill, and then sign an affidavit saying they are who they purport to be — under penalty of perjury.

The justices heard arguments last week on a challenge brought by Priorities USA, a Democratic-aligned voting rights group, which says the language on the affidavit is so vague and confusing that it results in a form of unconstitutional voter suppression. A lower court agreed.

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St. Louis may become just the second city – after Fargo – to move to "approval voting."

It's not just ranked-choice. Approval voting is also in the offing.

While ranked-choice voting may be the more fashionable choice among those favoring an upheaval in the system of American elections, that is not the only alternative to the traditional first-to-the-post system that still dominates contests for public office.

Say hello to the newest option, "approval voting."

This method has been approved for use in just one jurisdiction: Fargo, the biggest city in North Dakota (population 125,000). Now, proponents are going after a much bigger prize – hoping to get a referendum on the ballot to change the municipal elections to approval voting in at least one major league city, St. Louis (population 303,000).

Under approval voting, citizens may vote for – or approve – as many names on the ballot as they want. The winner is the person who has the broadest approval, by being endorsed on the most ballots.

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