How Would STAR Voting Have Impacted The California Senate Race?​

How would STAR Voting have impacted the California Senate race?

Last month California had a heated election trying to decide which senatorial candidates would face off for the runoff in November. The election used Choose-One voting, but we ran a parallel poll with STAR Voting to see how that would have changed the dynamics.

Under Choose-One voting, each voter got to pick their favorite and then the 2 candidates with the most votes proceeded to the runoff in November. Choose-One has a well known problem called Vote Splitting, where the political party with the most candidates is at a disadvantage since they’ll split the voters and make it a lot easier for the other side to win. Vote splitting can often leave the majority opinion divided and conquered, handing the win to a minority party, and it leads to some sinister side effects such as favorite betrayal, where voters choose a Lesser-Evil candidate over their favorite, or the spoiler effect, where a losing candidate can “spoil an election” by taking votes from a similar candidate who would have otherwise won.

This is also why Choose-One isn’t compatible with a Well Being economy. Vote splitting causes friction between voters of similar beliefs rather than allowing them to focus on their shared consensus of building toward a better society. STAR voting on the other hand will allow more candidates to run without fear of vote splitting.

In the senate election there were 27 candidates, but we’re mostly going to focus in on the top 4 front runners

  • Steve Garvey ( R ): Former professional baseball player and the leading Republican candidate
  • Adam Schiff ( D ): U.S. Representative, representing the more moderate wing of the Democratic Party
  • Katie Porter ( D ): U.S. Representative representing the progressive wing of the Democratic Party
  • Barbara Lee ( D ): U.S. Representative also representing the progressive wing of the Democratic Party

This is a prime scenario for vote splitting. California is primarily a blue state but having 3 candidates splitting the Democratic vote makes it much more likely for a Republican to win. On top of that we also see vote splitting within the democratic party with Adam Schiff unifying the moderate vote and with Katie Porter and Barbara Lee splitting the progressive vote.

With those dynamics ( and some shady campaign financing), we ended up with the following results:

Steve Garvey and Adam Schiff both benefited from unifying the support from their respective bases, whereas Katie Porter and Barbara Lee split their base and trailed in the results.

But what if we used a different method? A method where vote splitting isn’t a problem, and where it’s safe for voters to express their honest opinion? That’s why we ran a parallel poll with STAR Voting to see if things would have played out differently.


Some caveats before we proceed

  • Left-leaning Bias: The voters in our poll leaned more left than the voters in the actual election. However this was not a randomized study, and therefore it isn’t expected to be representative of how actual Californians would have voted.

Small Sample Size: We had a total of 37 votes, enough to get some interesting data, but it’s still a relatively small sample size.

Choose-One Results

      > Example snippet from a ballot. This would count as an Adam Schiff voter if we convert this to a Choose-One ballot

Our voters only used the 5-star ballot, where they could specify a score for each candidate on a range from 0 to 5. However we can still see how this would have played out under Choose-One by only looking at which candidate was scored highest by each of the voters.

We can already see that these results are VERY different from the actual results. Some of this could be explained by the STAR ballot. For example, a Barbara Lee voter might have settled for Katie Porter on a Choose-One ballot, but then showed their honest opinion on a more expressive ballot. However the majority of the deviation is likely due to the sample not being representative. Let’s also elaborate more on the Equal Preference and Other groups.

Equal Preference voters are those who gave their top score to multiple candidates. In our poll three of them gave 5 stars to both Barbara Lee and Katie Porter, while the 4th one gave 5 stars to all of the Democratic candidates. Unfortunately, Choose-One doesn’t support this level of expression, so these voters would have needed to settle for one of them and hide the support for their other favorites.

In reality the Equal Preference group is even bigger  since there were multiple voters who gave a 5 to a front runner as well as a down ballot candidate. However in these cases I made an assumption that they would support the front runner in an actual Choose-One election scenario so I counted them accordingly.

Other  voters are those who supported candidates outside of the frontrunners. One was a Sepi Gilani supporter, and the other only gave 5 stars to the candidates with a small business background. Under Choose-One these voters would have had to choose between voting for their honest favorite as a protest vote, or compromising for a different candidate so that their vote can make a difference among the front runners.

As we’re about to see, STAR Voting won’t require these voters to make those compromises.

STAR Voting Results

STAR Voting is always counted in 2 automatic rounds (regardless of the number of candidates). In the first round we add up the Stars across all candidates, and the two highest scoring candidates become finalists in the next round. In the second round each vote gets counted toward whichever finalist they most preferred. This allows each voter to have an equal voice in the runoff round, regardless of how strong their preference is. In the example we see that the example ballot was counted toward Carmen in the final round even though their favorite was Andre.

When we apply the same process to our poll Barbara Lee wins! The scoring round shows us the full support behind each of the candidates, rather than just the first choice support. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter still arise as the front runners, but Adam Schiff and other down ballot democrats got a boost because the voters in this race were able to show their level of preference for ALL the candidates instead of just the frontrunners. This also meant that Steve Garvey got buried down to 11th place with 18 points. This also feels more accurate. Any generic Democratic would likely still win against a Republican in a California general election, so that’s why we see so many lesser known democrats ranked above Garvey. (See Appendix A for my take on how we could adjust this poll to be more fair for Republicans)

Then we enter the runoff round. When it’s just a head-to-head between Barbara Lee and Katie Porter, we see that the majority of voters who had a preference preferred Lee over Porter, so Barbara Lee wins! The runoff round is particularly important for Steve Garvey voters. On average they gave Porter 0.5 stars and Barbara Lee 0 stars. This has a negligible impact on the finalists in the scoring round, but in the runoff round their full vote gets cast to Porter since that’s the candidate they preferred. And remember that down ballot voter who only gave their 5 star votes to small business owners? They also gave Lee 2 stars and Porter 0 stars. So in both cases these voters didn’t have to decide between casting a protest vote and casting a vote that would make a difference, with STAR Voting they got to do both!

Why Did Katie Porter Have The Highest Score In The Scoring Round?

Porter and Lee were the finalists because they both got high scores across the board. If we define giving 4 or 5 stars as strong support, then 24 voters, 64%, strongly supported both. However there were also 3 voters who only scored Porter highly, whereas there were no corresponding voters that only gave Lee strong support.

This gave Porter an edge in the scoring round, since a 5 star Porter, 0 star Lee vote is going to make a bigger impact on the difference between the finalists than a 5 star Lee, 4 star Porter vote. However this bias goes away in the runoff round where every vote is weighted equally. A 5 star Lee, 4 star Porter vote is going to count as 1 full vote for Lee, and a 5 star Porter, 0 star Lee vote is going to count as 1 full vote for Porter.

This reveals why the runoff round is important. The 5 star Lee, 4 star Porter voters were penalized for showing their true preference. If we only had the scoring round we may have seen more Lee voters strategically reduce their score for Porter (i.e. burying), so they could have more impact. 

This incentive to min-max your scores with only a scoring round of voting really reduces the benefits of having such an expressive ballot. But under STAR Voting, honesty is the best strategy. The added runoff elegantly balances the voter incentives so that they are encouraged to show their honest preference on their ballot instead of min-maxing.


So that’s how a STAR Voting election would go. Even with a small dataset we can already see some major improvements over Choose-One voting. Choose-One voting had major vote splitting, but with STAR Voting voters can support their favorite without having to worry about vote splitting. We’ve also seen that STAR Voting encourages voters to vote honestly all the way down the ballot, because in the final round every voter has an equal voice. Allowing all voices to be heard allows the consensus opinion to surface, and these are the conditions that will help lead us toward a Well Being economy.

Learn more about a Well Being Economy:
Learn more about STAR Voting:

Further Reading

Analyzing the CA Senate election with an Approval poll:

Chicago poll comparing STAR, Approval, RCV, and Choose-One:

Appendix A: Was This Poll Fair To Republicans?

They were certainly under-represented in this poll, which partially accounts for these results. But the poll also differs from the actual election in that it’s trying to pick a winner, whereas the actual election was just trying to reduce the pool of candidates for the run-off. 

With STAR Voting the primary is no longer necessary. We could have moved all these candidates to the general, and skip the expensive primary entirely.

However some jurisdictions might still opt for a primary in the interest of having a smaller pool of candidates for the general election (especially when there’s a crowded pool of 27 candidates). In that scenario it could be a good idea to use normal STAR Voting in the runoff but use a proportional multi-winner method in the primary (such as STAR-PR). For example, let’s say that we’re selecting 5 candidates for the general election, and the previous gubernatorial election showed us that Californian’s tend to vote 60% Democrat, and 40% Republican. A proportional voting system would ensure that 3 Democrats and 2 Republicans are selected for the runoff. This would still likely result in a Democratic winning in the general election, but a proportional representation approach will at least ensure that Republicans get a more fair shot at having their voice heard. 

What is a Wellbeing Economy? – WEAll 101 Presentation

What is A Wellbeing Economy? - WEAll 101 Presentation

Curious to know more about well-being economies? Then, please check out our presentation What is a Wellbeing Economy? – WEAll 101 that was done on January 23, 2024. Running about 40 minutes, Jessie Green, Rex Green, and Chad Baron explain the differences between our current economy and a well-being economy and illustrate what two aspiring well-being economies are doing.

We also polled the participants in our WEAll 101 presentation regarding what we should spend our money on to create a well-being economy. Afterwards, we categorized their 49 responses. Here are the tallies:

Affordable Housing15
More green spaces, gardens7
Bikes and Public Transit5
Go local, small businesses4
Health, mental health related4
Climate mitigation3
Universal Basic Income2
For child well-being2
Regenerative economics2

Some single responses were: prevent crime, education, and community wealth building.

Intrigued? Please join us as we pursue changing economies!

Nick Romeo – How to Build a just economy

Journalist Nick Romeo has spent years covering the world’s most innovative economic and policy ideas for The New Yorker. Nick studied the successes and challenges of people working to build economies that are more equal, just, and livable and wrote The Alternative – How to Build a Just Economy.

Nick combines original, in-depth reporting with expert analysis to help uncover what builds a Just Economy.

At this session, Nick will share with us some of the myths that got us to this moment and his analysis of where we could put our attention.


Join us Thursday, August 8th at 4pm Pacific


Interested in the book?   Please buy it at an independent bookstore like the one below:


To learn more about Nick’s work, visit

Innovations in Community Wellbeing Metrics

How do you use metrics to not only drive change, but increase civic engagement from community members? Two organizations are partnering to make metrics part of a story that community members feel invested in and can relate to.

Dark Matter Labs and the David Suzuki Foundation are collaborating on a program in Canada where communities participate in setting the metrics that matter to them. Through an innovative approach, the qualities that matter to a community are turned into “cornerstone indicators” – metrics that are underpinned by numerous factors yet remain relatable human stories.

Maddy Capozzi, Emily Harris and Vlad Afanasiev of Dark Matter Labs, alongside Tara Campbell and Maham Kaleem of David Suzuki Foundation, will step us through two previous projects as well as their brand new pilot in Canada.

Join Us – Tuesday, April 23 at 9am Pacific

Sign up here

What do we do about Monopolies if we really want a Wellbeing Economy

Monopolies extort consumers and workers, rob entrepreneurs and small businesses of opportunity, and subject our communities to the whims of absentee executives in faraway headquarters. What tools do we have to challenge the concentration of corporate power and bolster free, fair, and competitive markets at the state and local levels?

In 2023, Democracy Policy Network launched their Anti-Monoply Kit to help states develop their own strategy and learn what is working across the country.

Michael Swerdlow and Basel Musharbash will step up through the basic concepts of Anti-Trust legal frameworks to keep businesses and Monopolies in check.   They will review potential CA state legislative options as well as how we can support Federal Anti-Trust work.

Michael is the Anti-Monopoly Director for Democracy Policy Network.

Basel is an antitrust and community-development lawyer with Antimonopoly Counsel, a Texas law firm that represents farmers, workers, small businesses and local governments in advocacy and litigation aimed at righting the wrongs of concentrated corporate power — and building a free and fair economy for all.

Join us Thursday, February 22 at 4pm Pacific.  Michael and Basel will answer your questions.   SIGN UP HERE

2023 WEAll California Book Recommendations

2023 WEAll California Book Recommendations

The members of the WEAll California Working Group offer their top book recommendations for understanding and working toward a wellbeing economy. 

Rex Green recommends:

“Replacing GDP by 2030″ by Rutger Hoekstra, Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Dr. Hoekstra started tracking the plethora of measures of well-being in the summer of 2007.  From 2009 to 2014 he worked on developing a set of sustainable development measures.  Then, he noticed there were over 900 measures of sustainable development, but there was a lack of momentum to unseat GDP as the leading indicator of societal progress.  So, he studied the history of the development and adoption of GDP.  Then, he wrote this book, explaining why a different strategy is needed to replace GDP than merely searching for the optimal well-being indicator(s).  He recommends following the same steps that led to the widespread adoption of GDP.  This book deserves a place on the shelf of everyone who wants to know how to improve the tracking of societal progress.

Joe Houde recommends:

“Breaking Together – A Freedom Loving Response to Collapse” by Jem Bendell, Good Works, 2023.

“Breaking Together” is a journal of ecologically-driven societal collapse. There are many descriptions of opportunities for transformation that would lead to a survivable planet.  This is a sobering, yet clear-eyed look at the science, economics and social conditions that will lead to collapse. The author provides prescriptions for responses.  Not to be missed!  No need to rush through this book as there is far too much to cover in a single session.

David Green recommends:

“How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion” by David McRaney, Penguin, 2022.

McRaney hosts the long running podcast You Are Not So Smart.  His third book is a thorough examination of what changes people’s minds on issues that are central to identity.  He talks to people who have left cults, opted out of Flat Earth conspiracies and dozens of experts on how evolution, biology and culture affect our thinking and decisions. It is a delightfully easy read even though it is filled with scientific research.  McRaney also spends time with people who specialize in getting people to re-examine their beliefs to see what methods are most effective.  My runner up for this year is Brian Klaas’ Corruptible which is also about evolution and brain patterns but with a focus on why we choose bad leaders.

Krista Nickles recommends:

“3D Management, an Integral Theory for Organisations in the Vanguard of Evolution” by Marco Robledo, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2020.

As managers and executives scramble to help their businesses survive in a rapidly changing world, this book gives hope and guidance for running a business that holistically thrives. Robledo explains why past business models no longer work and how using a more integrated approach will help your business flex with the times and produce better outcomes for all stakeholders’ wellbeing. Executives can work from the many detailed examples of companies, management paradigms, and organizational structures that are already taking this integrated approach and making businesses more profitable, sustainable, and positively impactful than companies clinging to older models. This book leaves the reader feeling inspired about their own ability to help their company successfully build toward a more mutually beneficial and sustainable future.

How Will STAR Voting Help Fix Our Economy?

How will STAR Voting help fix our economy?

Does this sound familiar? You’re voting in an election, and you pick a lesser-evil candidate instead of your favorite because you’re afraid of “throwing away your vote” and causing your greater-evil to win? If so, you’ve fallen victim to Choose One Voting. For most of us, it’s the only voting method we have, and it has suppression of voter opinion baked into the method itself. This is an important issue for the Wellbeing Economy Alliance because prioritizing the well-being of people and the planet is only possible if our voting method allows us to vote for the people who share those priorities. This article breaks down how we can fix this.

Choose One Voting can only be solved by allowing people to show support for multiple candidates (and counting all of that support). There are many alternate methods that do this, but our preferred method is STAR Voting. STAR Voting let’s people express their support for each candidate from zero up to five stars, and then the winner is determined using simple addition. The two candidates with the most stars overall are finalists, and your one full vote automatically goes to the finalist you scored higher. The finalist with the most votes wins!

Let’s walk through how Hannah (our hypothetical voter) would vote in a STAR election. Hannah’s favorite is Andre, however she also has strong feelings about the other candidates, and she fills out the stars accordingly. Hannah gave Andre 5 stars, and then gave 4 stars to Carmen and David (Hannah likes Carmen and David equally, but not as much as Andre). Blake and Ella were Hannah’s least favorite options, so she scored them 1 and 0 stars respectively. In the scoring round, Hannah’s ballot adds 5 stars to Andre’s tally, 1 star to Blake’s tally, etc. Once all the stars have been added for all voters, Carmen and Blake have the most stars and they become finalists. In the automatic runoff round, each vote is counted as a Blake vote or a Carmen vote (or a vote of No Preference), and Hannah’s vote is counted as a Carmen vote because she scored Carmen higher than Blake on her ballot. In the end, more voters preferred Carmen over Blake, so Carmen wins!

Hannah experienced many benefits by using STAR Voting. She was able to …

  • Support multiple candidates
  • Express level of of support
  • Give candidates the same score
  • Give her full support for her favorite (Andre)
  • Use her vote to help avoid her worst case scenario (her vote counted toward Carmen in the final round)

STAR isn’t the only solution being considered. You may have also heard of Ranked Choice Voting, and Approval Voting, but STAR is the only one of those that can satisfy all 5 points. If you want to read more about the benefits of STAR compared to other voting methods, you can learn more here:

Lifestyle Changes that Improve Our Well-being

Lifestyle Changes that Improve Our Well-being

Which area of our lives are having the most impact, both favorable and unfavorable, on our economy? Zoe Gilbertson of Cambridge Doughnut UK has crafted a Personal Donut to help us identify these areas in order to help improve our and our economy’s well-being. You can read about creating personal donuts here. You can create your own personal donut, or you can use the template below to start identifying those areas of your life where you can make a lifestyle change to improve our well-being. 

  1. Circle the item in each spoke of the wheel that best describes your personal situation. 
  2. Count up the number of items tinted red up to and including the one you circled (zero if you did not circle a red-tinted item) across all the spokes in the upper half of the wheel. 
  3. Enter the sum in the Carbon Footprint Box. 
  4. The higher the number, the more opportunities you have to make lifestyle changes that will improve our well-being. If you circled an item inside the dark green circle, you may need assistance in making the changes needed to move into the Donut. 

The lower half of the Personal Donut cites items for your personal growth that you may want to pursue. For example, in the Society spoke, if your contribution to society is only voting, you would circle the vote, supported item. To increase your contribution to society, pick an item farther out on this spoke to strive for, possibly active impact, making a difference. You can score the lower half of the donut in the same manner as for the top half. Now, a higher score reflects a more positive impact on well-being. Is your lower half score higher than your upper half score?

Paraphrasing John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your society can do for you, but what can you do for our society?”

What Our Democracy Needs: Devoted Citizenship

What Our Democracy Needs: Devoted Citizenship

People often ask, what actions can we take to preserve our democracy? To address this very question, Richard Haas has just published his book on being a good citizen in a democracy. The title of the book is “The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens”. The obligations Haas presented are: Be Informed, Get Involved, Stay Open to Compromise, Stay Civil, Reject Violence, Value Norms, Promote the Common Good, Respect Government Service, Support the Teaching of Civics, and Put Country First. Along with explaining each obligation in depth, he provides an extensive reading list for avid readers to learn more about our democracy.

Some of us have never learned the habits that Haas proposed, or have forgotten what is required of us if we want to preserve our democracy. For instance, I attended a meeting with my Congressional representative during which three hecklers kept interrupting when they did not like what was being said. When it was my turn to speak, I told them they will lose our democracy when they try to suppress dissenting views. This goes to show that we need to resist any and all efforts to overturn our democracy, as no other form of governance encourages citizen input.

This blog post is the third in a series of posts devoted to answering the question, “What can I do personally, to promote a well-being economy?” The first post presented an assortment of actions each of us can do individually. The second post highlighted possible lifestyle changes you could make by scoring whether you are living within the doughnut of a sustainable economy. Please read the other two posts. Together, they provide a wealth of resources and opportunities to foster greater well-being for everyone.

Rex S. Green

Here Is What YOU Can Do To Promote Wellbeing for Everyone!

Here Is What YOU Can Do To Promote Wellbeing for Everyone!

The Wellbeing Economy Alliance is a global organization working to transform economies to prioritize the well-being of people and the planet over increasing GDP. You can help promote this transformation by taking steps outlined below to move us closer to a well-being economy in the United States by 2040. To learn more about our plan for achieving this goal, go to

In Your Space:

  • Participate in recycling reusable materials–paper, metal, glass, cans, bottles, etc.
  • Read the labels on the foods you buy and avoid additives that are unhealthy or potentially harmful.
    • High fructose corn syrup
    • Trans Fats
    • Sodium Nitrite
    • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
    • Artificial food coloring
    • Aspartame
    • BHA and BHT
    • Potassium bromate
    • Carrageenan
  • Buy more fresh foods that are locally produced. Ask your grocer about their sources.
  • Ask yourself how well you are doing and rate yourself every 3-4 months. You can use this scale: Really Great, Pretty Good, Good, Just Okay, Not that well, Pretty Bad, Really Awful. Keep track of how your well-being changes over time to see if you are doing better or worse. If worse, see what you might change to make things go better.

In Your Environment:

  • Keep track of who your representatives are at the federal and state government levels. Contact them with your concerns. Ask them for a copy of a report specifying how much money they are receiving for their reelection campaign. Consider voting for someone else when your rep is receiving large sums from special interest groups.
    • Federal –
    • State –
  • Volunteer for local community projects that you believe will better the lives of community residents. Just look up your city or town website and search for the activities and events it is sponsoring or planning. Watch for opportunities to help plan the future of your community.
  • Start a voter discussion group with people you know. Share the workload of following what your representatives are voting for. Have every member write to your representative when you want to direct their attention to a problem. Contact people running for local offices to obtain information about their views and plans should they be elected.
  • Develop a list of companies you think are contributing to everyone’s wellbeing and purchase their products instead of from companies you think may be harming us. Here are several signs of a company promoting well-being:
    • Follows ethical business practices and obeys the laws
    • Only sells products that are safe and perform well
    • Pays adequate living wages to all employees
    • Maintains a safe and convivial work environment
    • Start by learning more about the grocery store or supermarket and gas station where you make purchases. You can ask the grocery store employees how they are being treated. Independent brands of gasoline typically cost less, and some of the money is more likely pocketed by a person in your community. Some oil and gas companies are switching to renewable energy sources faster than others, particularly Shell Oil.
    • On the other hand, try to avoid companies that do not follow ethical business practices. An Ethical Consumer survey pointed to the following 8 companies that have the poorest track records: Nestlé, Monsanto, Amazon, Shell, Tesco, Barclays, Exxon, and Walmart. A source for finding ethical companies is

WEALL hopes you find this list helpful in satisfying your desire to make our world a better place to live. If so, whenever someone you know says, “I don’t know what I can do to make a difference,” direct them to our website.