by Alan F. Zundel
The 2016 elections exposed just how broken our election methods are. Now we have a chance to start changing that!
On Tuesday November 14 an initiative petition to institute STAR Voting for Lane County offices was filed at the Lane County Elections Office in Eugene. A parallel campaign is being organized in Portland for Multnomah County. If enough signatures are collected in each respective county, the initiatives will appear on their November 2018 ballots.
STAR (Score Then Automatic Runoff) Voting is a solution to multiple electoral problems. It:
- Allows voters to express their preferences more fully and accurately,
- Doesn’t force a voter to choose between more than one candidate they like,
- Gives equal weight to each voter’s vote, and
- Produces a winner with wide support.
In STAR Voting voters can score each candidate in the general election on a scale from zero to five, including giving two or more candidates the same score. Scoring candidates is similar to the familiar zero-to-five star scoring we use for products or movie reviews.
The two candidates with the highest overall scores are entered into an automatic runoff without the need of a second election. Each voter’s vote goes to the finalist who they scored higher, and the candidate who was scored higher most often wins.
STAR Voting builds on the long history of studying alternative voting methods by combining features of Score (or Range) Voting, Instant Runoff Voting, and Top-Two Elections, for a simple, integrated system that improves on all of them.
If the Lane County initiative passes, offices such as the county commissioners, the sheriff and the district attorney would be elected using STAR Voting instead of the current Top-Two voting method. For county elections STAR Voting has the added attractions of eliminating the cost and bother of a primary election and reducing the prospect of only one candidate appearing on the November general election ballot.
Mark Frohnmayer and Alan Zundel, both long-time activists for voting reform, are the chief petitioners for the Lane County initiative. Mark is a software and clean technology entrepreneur who was the Chief Petitioner in 2014 for an initiative to create a Unified Primary and is the founder of Equal Vote. Alan is a former political scientist who was instrumental in last year’s successful campaign to allow Ranked Choice Voting in Benton County and recently served on the Secretary of State’s task force to reform Oregon’s redistricting process.
Once the petitions are approved after review in each county, signature gathering will begin.
Volunteers for Lane County can contact firstname.lastname@example.org, and volunteers for Multnomah can contact PDX@equal.vote. For news of the campaigns you can follow the STAR Voting Facebook page, and for more information on STAR Voting see the Equal Vote website.
Interested parties in Multnomah County are invited to join a planning meeting on Sunday, November 19th from 3-5 pm at Lucky Lab, 1700 Killingsworth in Portland. If attending please RSVP email@example.com.
The Lane County campaign is currently accepting donations but only by check at the present time. Checks may be made out to “STAR Voting for Lane County” and mailed to:
STAR Voting for Lane County
c/o Alan Zundel
825 Monroe St., #1
Eugene, OR 97402