Although our votes are required to carry equal weight, they don't. It's time for real democracy. Join us!

Revolutionary Reform: The Oregon Way

Oregon has long led the nation in innovative reform proposals, from the initiative system itself to the Beach Bill, Bottle Bill and Vote-by-Mail, and Motor Voter just to name a few. Given the state of our national politics today, it's time for Oregon to step up again and demonstrate that a better way forward is possible.

We've crafted a simple three-phase plan to fundamentally reboot our national democratic process.

Phase 1: Start Local

We have completed charter amendments for Lane and Multnomah Counties to put the question of whether to adopt the nation's first equal vote to electors in Oregon. This will allow real voters to use STAR Voting in a real election as soon as November of 2020. We are now in the campaign building phase, and will soon submit the measures to local elections officials.

Phase 2: Democracy - an Oregon First

Oregon's Legislative Counsel has been engaged to draft a significant election reform law for consideration by the 2018 legislature and ultimately aimed at the November 2018 ballot. The broad strokes of the reform are as follows:

  • Switch the voting method from plurality to STAR Voting for all elections. This one is clear: STAR Voting is a giant democracy leap beyond the Plurality Voting system we use today. And this change won't even require amending our state Constitution: Article II section 16 of the Oregon Constitution specifically allows for alternate voting methods to be implemented by statute. It reads, "Provision may be made by law for the voter’s direct or indirect expression of his first, second or additional choices among the candidates for any office." Nice!

  • Consider Primary Election Reform. Let's double up on voter equality. The partisan primary election is what forces candidates to run two campaigns, raise more money, and change their messages midway through as they are considered by two distinct electorates. The primary is also what gives us "safe" districts that shut out half of the electorate.

  • Restore the proper role of political parties: nomination and endoresement of candidates.



    Multiple candidates from the same party will be able to compete in open STAR Voting general elections. As such, parties should be able to decide which candidates they wish to nominate and/or endorse on the ballot.

    Without the constriction of a state-funded primary election whose function is to eliminate candidates from general election consideration, parties will be free to innovate on their own internal process for putting forward candidates.

Phase 3: Go Big at Home - the 2020 Vision

Oregon, right now, for sure, should reform her Presidential Primary Election, and we've got a proposal we think makes sense. We call this new system the Oregon Poll.

  • Right now, only Oregonians in a major political party get a voice in the Presidential Primary, and even they are limited to expressing an opinion about only candidates in their own party. The new Oregon Poll will allow all voters to score all primary candidates regardless of the party (or not) of the voter or candidate. Parties can choose to accept the results of only their own affiliated voters, but Oregon will publish the full scoring and pairwise preference totals of all of the voters as well.

  • Right now, the Oregon primary happens so late in the season, we have a minimal impact on the outcome. If we remove the need for the state and local primary election, we can move the date of the Oregon Poll to have a more meaningful voice. Let's make that Tuesday actually Super.

  • By running the Oregon Poll on a meaningful date and using the best-in-class system that clearly shows the will of the whole electorate, Oregon will have an outsize impact not just on the outcome of the race, but on the national understanding of voting systems and equality. Mic drop.

Want to get involved? Join us to help make the Equal Vote another significant Oregon first.

What? You're not in Oregon? No fear! Our template amendments above should be easy to adapt to charters all over the place. Join us and we'll all get the Equal Vote to us all, ASAP!


Showing 14 reactions

  • commented 2017-11-10 10:37:13 -0800
    Another thing we should do is force congress to address the bills in the order they are received.

    step one: take a vote to see if everyone is ready to vote on said bill. if yes then vote if no…

    step two: assign bill to a committee to get more information that will help congress to vote in 60 DAYS

    step three: in 30 days committee returns to congress with data to disseminate and allow 30 days to study.

    step four: take a vote to see if everyone is ready to vote on the bill, if not a higher bar for more time must be met. otherwise the vote must be taken on the bill.

    Also judgeships should not be vacant for more than 60 days. And Judges could be picked like the jury.

    All judges who want a particular post put their name on the list. An anonymous peer grading is submitted on each name. Certain categories will be delineated. These scores will accompany the judges to the Senate. (state senate) There members will have a limited amount of exceptions that they can dismiss a judge (just like two lawyers dismissing jurors) whomever is left may be chosen (from) by the executive branch
  • commented 2017-11-10 10:20:31 -0800
    I’m onboard with this to pick the executive office (single winner) but NOT for legislative offices (Multi winner) I need MORE opportunity for representation. MY CHOICE of REPRESENTATION to be exact. See Jim Mueller

    Districting is done to satisfy the “one man, one vote” concept. It makes the representatives equal but makes the citizens unequal-some have the representation of their choice and most do not. The theory is that because the population in each district is nearly equal then each person has the same proportionate share of a representative (a representative that they may have voted against and vehemently dislike).

    Gerrymandering aside, great expense and effort goes into making legislative districts as close to equal in size of population as possible. The result is that many counties and municipalities are divided up into more than one, sometimes several districts. This creates more work and expense for the Election Officials in printing notices and ballots, setting up the machines, etc. The existence of districts makes campaigning more expensive by dividing up media markets into several districts or having a district span parts of several markets.

    So all of this work goes into making them equal and what is the first thing that they do? They give up a lot of their power by electing a leader who gets to decide a myriad of details including who is on what committees, which offices legislators are assigned to and what legislation will be scheduled for a vote and which bills will die without being voted on. In our relatively free market system people obtain the goods and services of their choice that they can afford to purchase or retain. Representation (Attorney, Personal Representative, Executor, Proxy, Agent, Guardian) involves the agent being legally bound to conduct themselves in the best interest of the client. In our election system, the government designates people as representatives even though the client (voter) is certain that the “representative” will not act in his or her best interest and will use force if necessary in order to prevent the other candidates from representing the people who voted for them.

    That’s Forced Representation.

    By declaring that people have the Right to CHOICE OF REPRESENTATION, we establish a principle which people can aspire to, we expand the number of people who care about the outcome of elections and we show that this is not a partisan effort.

    CHOICE OF REPRESENTATION makes the voters equal. They all get the Representation of their Choice and make the representatives unequal by assigning them voting power equal to the number of people who voted for them.

    In discussions of CHOICE OF REPRESENTATION, we use the term Representative Denied Office (RDO) for those people who have run for office, received votes and have been denied the opportunity to effectively represent the people who voted for them. The RPO’s (Representatives Permitted Office) are sworn in.

    Personally I think that having a representative of your choice is much more important than having the same number of people in each district.
  • commented 2017-11-05 18:23:08 -0800
    Sara — Thanks for the clarification! I still find myself in favor of skipping primaries whenever possible, but I’m happy to know that STAR voting is easily adapted to multi-winner and PR outcomes as well. (Though I’m still wrapping my head around RRV. Damnable math!)
  • commented 2017-11-05 12:22:07 -0800
    STAR Voting is at it’s core a single winner system but it could easily be used for simple multi-winner races as well, you would just run one additional runoff for each remaining seat until all are filled. Multi-winner STAR was recently used for Portland Forward’s Spring Thing event which picked a number of projects for the group to support this year.

    STAR Voting also can be easily adapted for proportional representation (another multi-winner method for electing a representative council as opposed to the most popular winners.) STAR PR is based on Reweighted Range Voting but with the runoffs added as above.

    Regardless the version of STAR that best suits your elections needs the runoff is a key step that adds accuracy and encourages expressive honest.
  • commented 2017-10-31 13:27:46 -0700
    Hiya Sara,

    Thanks for all the content! All good stuff, though I was confused by the proposal that STAR voting be used in a unified primary, in which the top 6 (or so) candidates advance to a general runoff.

    Unless I’ve misunderstood it, STAR voting is a single-winner system; so how would it determine 6 primary winners? Would we eliminate the runoff stage (effectively making it a plain score-voting system), and the top 6 scorers would advance? If that’s the plan, would we basically be bullet-voting (albeit with 6 bullets), and thus attracting the usual criticism of plain score-voting?

    Though, the fiscal appeal of STAR voting is (due to its fair handling of contests involving more than 2 candidates) its ability to eliminate the primary phase entirely. To retain that appeal, I wonder if it makes more sense to stick to a single election, but make the entry requirements more demanding (e.g., increase the number of signatures needed for a candidate to appear on the ballot) to filter out all but the most serious contenders, thus keeping the candidate list manageable for the voter. Perhaps?

    Once again, thanks for all the links and reading!
  • commented 2017-10-30 11:50:54 -0700
    Stephano, good question regarding primaries. In the Multnomah and Lane countywide races that Equal Vote is starting with this isn’t likely to be a concern, but for mayor, governor or president it might be a factor as those are likely to attract more candidates.

    For races where a primary might be helpful to keep the field manageable STAR Voting (SRV 0-5) could be used in a primary and then the top 6 or 8 could advance, with a guaranteed spot for each political party and top independent as well. Other ideas could be letting each party only run/endorse 3 or so candidates and “raising the bar” as you suggested."

    I wrote an article on this:
    https://dreamtimecompass.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/reclaim-the-vote-how-to-fix-our-voting-system-in-one-fell-swoop/

    I’m going to post this question to our RCV OR loomio group, which is a forum that is great for discussing ideas in more depth. That group has been a big part of crafting the decisions and policy for Equal Vote.
    https://www.loomio.org/g/mlgtGHuy/rcv-oregon
  • commented 2017-10-23 09:14:51 -0700
    You could score between a negative and a positive (e.g., -3 to +3), but that would introduce confusion regarding blank scores and write-in candidates. For my ballot, any candidate whose score I left blank (including any write-in candidates whom I did NOT write in) should default to the lowest score; this prevents the unlikely-but-theoretically-possible “unknown lunatic wins” scenario. In a 0-9 range, it’s easy to assume a default of 0 (zero). But for a -3 to +3 range, the voter will wonder: Is the default 0 or -3?

    So to keep things understandable for the electorate and less accident-prone, I’m guessing a range whose lowest score is zero might be the way to go.
  • commented 2017-10-01 13:55:43 -0700
    How about scoring from -3 to 3 for example?
  • commented 2017-04-06 18:59:14 -0700
    Question: Suppose an alternative voting system (like SRV) does get implemented somewhere. Once people realize the election is no longer a lesser-of-two-evils vote (i.e., single Democrat vs. single Republican) and the field is much more open, a LOT of new contenders might enter the race: nonpartisan candidates, minor-party candidates, multiple candidates from each major party, and so on, none of whom need to survive a primary election to appear on the general ballot.

    Voters could be faced with a bewildering multitude of questionable choices; this won’t endear them to the new system, and might even put the new system in danger of repeal. To keep SRV elections manageable for the electorate, should election authorities raise the bar for who appears on the ballot, to filter out all but the most serious, competent, and generally viable?
  • commented 2017-02-07 16:52:50 -0800
    Hey Guys,
    Did the amendment pass in Lane County?
    I’m looking for the contact person for this site? I want to bring it to Multnomah!
  • commented 2016-12-11 17:28:17 -0800
    The system uses a 10 score range to afford voters enough resolution to differentiate candidates without too high a score penalty. There is no intention to change the number of score options based on the number of candidates in the race — if there are a ton of candidates you’d have to give some of them the same scores.
  • commented 2016-12-11 16:37:18 -0800
    What determines the number of scoring bubbles in SRV? Is it always ten (0-9) for the sake of simplicity/predictability, or can it change? Example: In a race including more than ten candidates, would the number of bubbles have to increase in order to allow voters full expression of preference?
  • commented 2016-11-21 18:09:43 -0800
    Great question Stephan! Right now we are people powered, but save up the shekels — we’ll be doing a fund raising drive shortly.
  • commented 2016-11-21 18:02:21 -0800
    All sounds good, but I’m no longer seeing a “Donate” button on the site. How can we support the cause, help fund production of edu-taining videos, etc.?

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