Voting on Voting

Proposition D on St. Louis ballot will change the future of local elections if passed


For St. Louis voters, the presidency isn’t the only significant issue this election day. The Missouri ballot also includes Proposition D: an approval voting initiative that will change the way people in St. Louis vote in local elections. 

This measure asks, “Shall the City of St. Louis adopt an ordinance to: establish an open, non-partisan system for elections to the offices of Mayor, Comptroller, President of the Board of Aldermen, and Alderman.”

The measure first addresses which offices would be impacted by this change in voting systems. The approval voting initiative is non-partisan so the candidates’ party affiliations will not be listed on the ballot. Critics have noted that this would cause confusion for many voters who are not as well-versed in the political implications of the initiative as others.

However, this measure is intended to “enable voters to choose all the candidates they wish in the open, non-partisan primary.”

Allowing voters to choose as many candidates as they approve of in a primary helps to end the possibility of splitting the vote in the general election. 

Finally, the measure ends by asking if St. Louisans should, “allow the top two candidates to then compete in a runoff general election?”

If this measure is enacted, members of the same party may end up opposing each other in the general election. This would help voters focus on the issues rather than simply party affiliations. 

In practice, the system of approval voting affects the future elections of the Mayor, Comptroller, President of the Board of Aldermen and Alderman. The primary would take place in March where voters would be able to approve as many candidates as they like. When the general run-off election came, voters would choose between the two candidates with the most votes from the primary on the ballot. 

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board, “the 2017 Democratic primary pitted then-Alderman Lyda Krewson against Treasurer Tishaura Jones among three other Black contenders. Had the multiple-candidate primary not split the Black vote, Jones might have emerged the primary victor instead of Krewson.” For that reason, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Proposition D. 

This system has made it to the ballot because many people find that St. Louis’s current voting system is not representative of the population’s actual wishes. When there are more than two candidates on the ballot, any singular candidate struggles to get more than 40 percent of the votes, which does not give them any real authority over St. Louis. 

“No leader has a mandate to govern when 60 percent  of voters choose someone else. This is not how democracy was intended to work,” Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, Jr. (D-78) said.

If passed, this new system would help ensure that St. Louis citizens are represented fairly. So, Missourians, when election day comes, remember that there is more on the ballot than just the president.