Approval Voting

Steven J. Brams, Peter C. Fishburn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Approval voting is a method of voting in which voters can vote for (“approve of”) as many candidates as they wish in an election. This article analyzes properties of this method and compares it with other single-ballot nonranked voting systems. Among the theorems proved is that approval voting is the most sincere and most strategyproof of all such voting systems; in addition, it is the only system that ensures the choice of a Condorcet majority candidate if the preferences of voters are dichotomous. Its probable empirical effects would be to (1) increase voter turnout, (2) increase the likelihood of a majority winner in plurality contests and thereby both obviate the need for runoff elections and reinforce the legitimacy of first-ballot outcomes, and (3) help centrist candidates, without at the same time denying voters the opportunity to express their support for more extremist candidates. The latter effect's institutional impact may be to weaken the two-party system yet preserve middle-of-the-road public policies of which most voters approve.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)831-847
    Number of pages17
    JournalAmerican Political Science Review
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Sep 1978

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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