Unified primary

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A unified primary (or top-2 approval+runoff or top-two choose-many primary) is an electoral system for narrowing the field of candidates for a single-winner election, similar to a nonpartisan blanket primary, but using approval voting for the first round, advancing the top-two candidates, allowing voters to confirm majority supported candidate in the general election.[1][2][3][4][5] The term "unified primary" first gained currency through a petition measure in Oregon which failed to make the ballot in 2014.[6]

St. Louis

Heading from the sample ballot for Heading from sample ballot for the March 2021 primary election in St. Louis, Missouri[7][8]

The unified primary has been used in St. Louis, Missouri since November 2020, when the voters of the city approved it for use in the 2021 St. Louis mayoral election. The method is defined in a short paragraph on the 2020 ballot petition:[9]

Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, in the primary election for the [offices in question], voters shall select as many candidates as they approve of for each office. The two candidates receiving the most votes for each office shall advance to the general election. The candidate for each office receiving the most votes in the general election shall be declared the winner.

The ballot petition above passed with over 68% of the vote in the city of St. Louis in November 2020.[10] The system was first used in the 2021 St. Louis mayoral election, resulting in the election of Tishaura Jones.


  1. Griffiths, Shawn M. (2014-01-03). "The Unified Primary: A New Way to Conduct Nonpartisan Elections". Independent Voter Network. Archived from the original on 2014-01-04. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  2. Sharnak, Debbie. "Different Types of Primary Elections". Independent Voter Project. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  3. Hamlin, Aaron (2014-08-21). "The Primary: What Is It Good For?". The Center for Election Science. A Primary If You Insist. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
  4. Frohnmayer, Mark. "Unified Primary Initiative Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)". Archived from the original on 24 June 2018.
  5. "Electoral System Glossary". The Center for Election Science. 2015-05-21. Retrieved 2018-07-17.
  6. "Oregon Unified Primary Elections Initiative (2014)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2022-10-14.
  7. https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/board-election-commissioners/documents/upload/Mar2021AllRacesBallot2.pdf
  8. https://www.reddit.com/r/EndFPTP/comments/lfn1sh/sample_approval_voting_ballot_for_the_march_2nd/
  9. STL Approves. "PETITION FOR PROPOSITION D" (PDF). STL Approves.
  10. Schlinkmann, Mark. "Overhaul of St. Louis election system passes, residency rule repeal fails". STLtoday.com. Retrieved 2021-02-06.