Most people are ready for this election to be over. In fact, most of us were ready for it to be over long ago. This year has highlighted some serious problems with our election system. Some voters are discouraged because they feel like they have to choose between voting for the lesser of two evils or throwing their vote away. Others feel discouraged because year after year politicians are elected without a majority of the vote—this happens when people opposing one politician split their votes among two or more other candidates running for the same office.
There’s a simple solution to these problems. It’s called ranked-choice voting and Benton County is poised to be the first county in Oregon to use it. Benton County’s Ranked Choice Voting Measure 2-100 will be on your ballot this November. It calls for using ranked-choice voting to elect our countywide officials in general elections. Primaries won’t be affected by the Measure.
Ranked-choice voting is a system that gives voters more power by allowing them to rank candidates in order of preference: 1, 2, 3 and so on. If your favorite candidate can’t win, your vote is instantly counted for your second choice.
It works like this: After the election everyone’s first-choice votes are counted. If a candidate has a majority of votes, that candidate wins. If no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Anyone that voted for the eliminated candidate then has his or her second-choice vote instantly counted and added to the totals of the remaining candidates. This process is repeated until one candidate has a majority.
With ranked-choice voting, voters have more choice. You can vote for who you want, instead of who is more likely to win. You never have to choose between throwing your vote away, or voting for the lesser of two evils.
Ranked-choice voting also ensures that candidates are elected with the broadest support. Right now, politicians can be elected to office with less than 50% of the vote. Ranked-choice voting fixes this and ensures that our representatives are elected with majority support—more than 50% of the vote. It’s a simple change that upholds our tradition of electing politicians through the will of the people.
Finally, ranked-choice voting encourages new voices and more participation. While many of us have become discouraged with politics, ranked-choice voting would take us in a new direction. In cities and counties already using ranked-choice voting, voters have more candidates and viewpoints to choose from because it encourages new voices to run for office. As a result, voters are more engaged and more people vote because their voices matter more.
Simply put, ranked-choice voting is a proven step towards better elections and a more accountable government. Voting “Yes” on Measure 2-100 will put more power in the hands of voters. I urge you to learn more by visiting the campaign website—www.
From Dan Rayfield, State Representative, District 16