The University of Colorado student government is switching to an "approval voting" system for its elections this spring so that students can vote for all of the candidates they think would do a good job.

Previously -- like most standard elections -- students could only vote for as many candidates as there were spots open.

Voters can select any combination of candidates and those with the most votes win under the new system, which was approved by the student government's legislative body and an election committee.

Lora Roberts, director of communications for the CU student government, said the new voting system will give third-party candidates a more accurate measure of support and help prevent student elections from turning into popularity contests.

Roberts said voters are sometimes deterred from voting for the independent candidate they support because they don't want to "waste" a vote in an election that pits candidates from the two major parties against one another.

"In this system, it allows you to have more of a choice," she said. "And it allows more independent tickets to have a shot."

The new system, student government leaders say, tends to elect candidates who would beat all rivals in a "head-to-head" vote.

The CU student government holds elections in the fall and spring. This spring, students will elect new leaders including three executives. Student government elections are online and will be April 8-11.

The idea of approval voting has gained some momentum in Colorado.

Earlier this year, two state legislators -- Sen. David Balmer, an Arapahoe County Republican, and Rep. Jonathan Singer, a Longmont Democrat, introduced a bill that sought to allow approval voting in local elections. The measure died in committee.

The CU student government is among the pioneers of approval voting systems on college campuses. Dartmouth College students in New Hampshire have used the approval system in their student government elections, said Connor Evans, assistant election commissioner at CU.

Student government leaders hope the approval system will engage more students.

CU has the largest student government budget in the country, controlling more than $36 million in student fees. The student government has had a history of low voter turnout, but the turnout rate in recent years has topped 35 percent.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or anasb@dailycamera.com.