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Oregon Ranked Choice Voting

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Ranked Choice Voting

Background

Oregon has historically favored election reform. In 1908, a ballot initiative allowed the state to be the first to include ranked choice voting in its constitution. In 1998, Oregon became the first state that conducts all elections by mail, and by 2015, the state became the first to adopt automatic voter registration. These policies have led to significantly higher voter turnout rates than the national average. In addition, Oregonians are familiar with ballot measures–often seen nearly every election cycle. 

In 2016, Benton County approved a ballot measure amending the county charter to use ranked choice voting for county official offices. In 2020, Benton County held Oregon’s first successful ranked-choice voting election. 

In 2022, the Portland Charter Committee unanimously advanced an election reform proposal for Portland’s elections. If passed in the general election, the voting package would allow ranked choice voting, the expansion of city council representation, and a city council focused on setting policy and running the city’s day-to-day operations. In separate party summits in April 2022, both Oregon Democrats and Republicans used straw polls utilizing ranked choice voting.

The Opportunity

Oregon’s electoral reform history provides a strong foundation for passing and implementing new reforms. Now, local advocates are encouraging the state to adopt ranked choice voting over the next few years. Oregon Ranked Choice voting is organizing supporters and volunteers, supporting pro-RCV candidates, encouraging municipalities to pass RCV, advocating for policy change in the state legislature and more. 

Oregon Ranked Choice is also prepared to ensure a robust implementation of ranked choice voting and further evaluate, prioritize and win campaigns for further reforms for 2025 and beyond. This culture is ideal for a high-information issue like ranked choice voting if the resources for early voter education are in a position to capitalize on it. 

The Organization

Executive Director Mike Alfoni and experienced political consultant Debbie Koreski lead Oregon Ranked Choice. The organization is advised by the board of directors, including Representative Rayfield, attorney Blair Bobier and nonprofit consultant Eileen Reavey. Oregon Ranked Choice Voting Advocates is working to implement a multi-pronged approach for achieving success by passing ranked choice voting, ensuring the implementation of the policy, and defending ranked choice voting through litigation. 

The Policy

Ranked choice voting is a commonsense change that gives voters the option to rank candidates for office in the order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes that candidate received count instantly towards the next choice on those voters’ ballots. That process repeats until a candidate receives a majority of the vote and wins.

Ranked choice voting gives voters more choice, voice, and power when they cast their ballots, eliminates the “spoiler effect,” and helps guarantee that elected leaders are elected with majority support.

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