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.

Oregon's Legislative Counsel has been engaged to draft a significant election reform law for consideration by the 2019 legislature and ultimately aimed at the November 2020 ballot. The broad strokes of the reform are as follows:

  • Switch the voting method to STAR Voting for all elections that currently use Plurality Voting. 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!

  • Revolutionize the Presidential Primary. 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 a single candidate in their own party. The new Oregon Poll will allow all voters to STAR vote on all primary candidates regardless of the party (or not) of the voter or candidate. Because Parties are technically private organizations, it will be their choice whether or not to accept the results of only their own affiliated voters, but the Oregon Poll will direct the state to 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!

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  • John Kesich
    commented 2018-02-18 02:19:04 -0800
    One problem which you do not seem to be addressing is the division of elected bodies into single member districts which results in large numbers of voters – even a majority if there is only a plurality winner – being told that the candidate they just voted against is now their representative. Single Transferable Vote with Multi Member Districts seems to be the answer.

    What are your thoughts on STV-MMD and HR 3057, the Fair Representation Act, which would mandate it for US House elections?