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!