Ranked Choice Oregon Ballot Initiative


 


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Initiative Question

Do you want to allow voters to rank their choices of candidates in general elections for statewide races including U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and to have ballots counted in multiple rounds in which least-popular candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority; and do you want political parties to be allowed to use this ranked choice voting in their primary elections?

Results of “Yes” Vote

“Yes” vote adopts ranked choice voting for use in general elections for statewide races including U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and counts ballots in multiple rounds in which the least-popular candidates are eliminated successively until a candidate wins by a majority of votes; and optionally allow any political party to use this ranked choice voting in their primary elections.

Results of “No” Vote

“No” retains the current voting method in which a voter can mark just one candidate in each election contest and the winner only needs to receive more votes than each one of the other candidates, which is a disadvantage to similar candidates, and which allows a unique candidate to win even if more than half the voters have marked their ballots in opposition to that winning candidate.

Financial Impact

Money will be needed to educate voters how to mark ranked ballots, and how the marks will be counted. Money will be needed to make this education available in multiple languages. A small amount of money will be needed to convert ballot mark locations into data that can be supplied to open-source software or special spreadsheets for ballot tabulation.

Summary

Currently in Oregon elections, each voter can choose to express support for only a single candidate in each election contest, and the candidate with the largest number of these votes is declared the winner. When three or more popular candidates are in the same election contest the candidate with the highest count of these votes is not always the most popular candidate. This unfair result can happen when a group of politically similar voters split their votes across multiple similar candidates, or when politically different groups of voters concentrate their votes on a single candidate. The result is that sometimes the winner is opposed by more than half the voters. If this ballot initiative is approved then for specified elections each Oregon voter will be allowed to rank their choices of candidates and the ballots will be counted in multiple rounds in which least-popular candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by majority. The least-popular candidate in each round is the candidate who would lose every one-on-one contest against each of the other candidates, or if there is no such “pairwise losing candidate” then the eliminated candidate is the one who receives the fewest votes based on which not-yet-eliminated candidate is ranked highest on each ballot. If this ballot initiative is approved then this voting method will be adopted for general elections for statewide races including U.S. Senate, Congress, Governor, State Senate, and State Representative, and if desired the primary elections of any political party that chooses to use this method.

Text of Measure

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:

SECTION 1. ORS 254.065 is amended to read (where existing text is in italics and underlined text is added):

Person receiving majority of votes or most votes nominated or elected; measure adopted by majority of votes; when measure conflicts. (1) In the elections declared in section [???] the voters shall be asked to rank their choices of candidates as described in section [???] and the Secretary of State shall tabulate those votes according to ranked choice voting as described in section [???]. For all other elections when one person is to be nominated for or elected to an office, the person receiving the highest number of votes shall be nominated or elected. When more than one person is to be nominated for or elected to a single office, the persons receiving the higher number of votes shall be nominated or elected. This subsection does not apply to a candidate for election to an office at a general election if the election for the office must be held at a special election as described in ORS 254.650.



SECTION 2. The following section is added to [Oregon State Law]:

[section ???] Elections using ranked choice voting: (1) Ranked choice voting shall be used in general and special elections for statewide and Congressional offices including: United States Senator, United States Representative to Congress, Governor, State Senator, and State Representative. Any county or municipality is allowed to use ranked choice voting in any of its single-winner elections, and any political party is allowed to use it in any primary election.



SECTION 3. The following section is added to [Oregon State Law]:

[section ???] Ballots used in ranked choice voting: (1) In an election for which ranked choice voting is used the ballot must be simple and easy to understand and allow a voter to rank candidates for an office in order of preference. Ranking level one is the highest ranking, ranking level two is the next-highest ranking, and so on up to the number of candidates or up to a limit that is specified for that jurisdiction. If not otherwise specified a limit of five ranking levels is used.

(2) A voter may include no more than one write-in candidate among that voter's ranked choices for each office. A voter may mark more than one candidate at the same ranking level. A voter is not required to mark a ranking level for every candidate. A voter is not required to use every available ranking level. If paper ballots are used and a voter marks more than one ranking level for the same candidate, the most-preferred of the marked ranking levels is used. If a voter does not assign a candidate to any ranking level, the least-preferred ranking level is used. Skipped ranking levels are allowed because they do not affect the results.



SECTION 4. The following section is added to [Oregon State Law]:

[section ???] Tabulation of ranked choice ballots: (1) In an election for which ranked choice voting is used the ballots shall be counted in sequential counting rounds in which least-popular candidates are eliminated until a candidate wins by a majority of highest-ranked votes. After each candidate elimination the eliminated candidate is removed from the list of continuing candidates and the ballots on which that eliminated candidate was ranked highest shall have the next-highest-ranked continuing candidate moved into the highest rank for that ballot.

(2) “Next-highest-ranked continuing candidate” means the continuing candidate on the ballot who is ranked higher than all the other continuing candidates. This identification disregards any ranking levels that the voter has not assigned to any candidate.

(3) If there is a continuing candidate who would lose every pairwise comparison against each of the other continuing candidates then this candidate is identified as a “pairwise losing candidate” and this candidate is eliminated as the least-popular candidate. Not every elimination round has a pairwise losing candidate. It is not possible for there to be more than one pairwise losing candidate in an elimination round.

(4) “Pairwise comparison” means a one-on-one comparison between any two candidates that counts how many ballots indicate a preference for one of the two candidates over the other candidate and how many ballots have the opposite preference. The candidate with the larger pairwise count is the winner in this pair and the candidate with the smaller pairwise count is the loser in this pair. If both pairwise counts are the same then neither candidate wins and neither candidate loses this pairwise comparison.

(5) If the elimination round does not have a pairwise losing candidate then the least-popular candidate is the candidate with the smallest vote count among the continuing candidates where only the highest-ranked continuing candidate on each ballot is counted. If two or more continuing candidates are tied with the same smallest vote count then the tie is resolved using the process explained in [section ???]

(6) If a voter writes in the name of a write-in candidate, all the other ballots on which that candidate's name is not written are interpreted as if the write-in candidate is at the ranking level below the lowest-ranked candidate on each ballot.

(7) At the start of tabulation if the counts prior to the first elimination round include multiple candidates who clearly are not popular and the results will not change by eliminating all those candidates together then those candidates can be eliminated together in the first elimination round.

(8) If a ballot ranks two or more candidates at the same ranking level and two or three or four or five of these candidates are continuing candidates who have risen to become the highest-ranked candidates on this ballot then temporarily while looking for the candidate with the fewest continuing votes these continuing candidates shall split this ballot's single vote into equal decimal or fractional counts that add up to no more than one count per ballot. The Secretary of State is allowed to determine how to handle ballots on which there are more than five continuing candidates at the same highest ranking level. All reported total vote counts are rounded down to the nearest integer if decimal or fractional vote counts are involved.

(9) “Equal decimal or fractional counts” means a decimal value such as 0.50 or 0.33 or 0.25 or 0.20 for two, three, four, or five (respectively) continuing candidates, or a fractional value such as one half, one third, one fourth, or one fifth.

(10) After the election results have been certified the Secretary of State shall publish (make available to the public) all the counts that were used during the rounds of elimination and also publish the starting pairwise comparison counts for the candidates who are popular enough to have any possibility of winning.

(11) If ranked choice voting is used in a primary election and two candidates from that political party are allowed to progress to the general election then the candidate who is last eliminated before electing the winning candidate can be elected as the party's second candidate in the general election.

(12) For the purpose of statutes that require vote counts that indicate support for each political party, such as to distinguish between a minor party and a major party, the number of voters who support a party's candidate is the vote count of the single highest-ranked candidate on each ballot before the elimination rounds begin. For this purpose if a ballot ranks two or more candidates at the same highest ranking level then this ballot does not contribute support to any political party.



SECTION 5. The following section is added to [Oregon State Law]:

[section ???] Resolving a tie during elimination rounds: (1) If there is a tie in an elimination round then the tied continuing candidate who has the largest pairwise opposition count is eliminated as the least-popular candidate. If there is still a tie then the tied continuing candidate who has the smallest pairwise support count is eliminated as the least-popular candidate. If there is still a tie then the court that has jurisdiction over the election shall choose which of the tied candidates is to be eliminated. After the tie is resolved the elimination rounds are continued.

(2) “Pairwise opposition count” means the number produced by counting on each ballot the number of continuing candidates who are ranked higher than the candidate being considered and adding these counts across all the ballots.

(3) “Pairwise support count” means the number produced by counting on each ballot the number of continuing candidates who are ranked lower than the candidate being considered and adding these counts across all the ballots.

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You can contact us, the Ranked Choice Oregon organizers, by sending an email message to “action” at this website's domain name (RankedChoiceOregon dot org).


Our postal mailing address is: Ranked Choice Oregon, PO Box 2351, Portland, OR, 97208