Mixed-Member Elections for the Oregon Legislature?

    by Alan F. Zundel The dysfunctions of our election system are well known and have inspired several reform proposals, but one alternative has been given little attention: mixed-member election systems. The potential benefits of moving to a mixed-member system include:  electing a legislature more reflective of the range of voters’ viewpoints giving voters more actual choices beyond the two dominant political parties retaining local ties between each district and the legislator it elects offsetting partisan gerrymandering of state and congressional districts altering the two-party dynamic of gridlock and lack of compromise creating more diversity in political representation What are mixed-member districts? Mixed-member districts elect members to the legislature with a mix of methods: election of one candidate from each geographical district (as we do now) plus election of several at-large candidates to rectify imbalances in voter support for the various political parties.  Your ballot would only have one simple change. In addition to voting for a candidate for your state assembly district and your state senate district, as we currently do, you would have a separate vote to pick which of Oregon’s several political parties you would most like to represent your views in the legislature. The legislature would be expanded to include several at-large seats. These seats would be awarded to designated candidates from each political party so as to bring the party composition of the legislature into closer alignment with the proportion of support each party received in the party-support vote. Continue reading

RCV Oregon Changes Name, Expands Mission

    RCV Oregon has changed its name from Ranked Choice Voting for Oregon to Real Choice Voting for Oregon and expanded its mission to include promotion of proportional representation election methods and consideration of the new STAR Voting concept.Early this year we offered a proposal to use ranked choice voting for the election to one or more statewide offices. This idea was postponed upon request until funding was secured for implementation of ranked choice voting in Benton County, which passed an RCV initiative last year.Meanwhile the STAR Voting concept was introduced to our discussions and much attention was given to the relative merits of STAR voting as compared to the instant runoff form of ranked choice voting. Participants did not reach consensus on these issues and separate STAR voting and instant runoff campaigns have been initiated in Lane County and the Portland area.Alan Zundel of RCV Oregon has recently been looking into Mixed-Member Election Systems, which combine elements of the single-member plurality election method, used in most U.S. elections, and proportional representation. He will very soon be presenting a proposal to bring a mixed-member system to elections for the Oregon legislature.The institution of a mixed-member election system will not preclude the future application of either instant runoff or STAR voting for election of legislators from Senate or Assembly districts. It also does not require any change of vote tabulation technology and will not entail longer and more complicated ballots.Details will follow in another blog post later today.

RCV Portland Raising Funds for Survey

Ranked Choice Voting Portland has begun a fund raising campaign to pay for a survey in the Portland Metro area. The aim is to measure public awareness of and support for ranked choice voting and/or proportional representation for elections in one or more of Portland's offices. They are considering the offices of Portland City Commissioners, the Mayor, the Multnomah County Chair, and the Multnomah County Auditor. The fund raising goal is $5000. Reaching the goal will signal to potential backers that the campaign is viable and worthy of support. Your contribution can help! To donate go to this ActBlue donation site. The results of the survey will determine the best path forward for bringing ranked choice voting to Portland, Oregon's largest city. RCV Portland's next volunteer meeting will be held on Sunday, May 7, from 3:30 to 5 pm at the Hollywood branch library in Portland. Volunteers are needed to distribute informational fliers, conduct further research, and help with fundraising. If you live in the Portland area and are interested in election reform, your participation is needed! For more information go to the RCV PDX FaceBook page.

Portland Ranked Choice Voting Group Splits

    Two days before the third general assembly of Ranked Choice Voting for Portland, some of the members of the organizing committee announced that they were leaving the larger group to focus exclusively on Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) as the most viable voting method reform. In response, other members have formed a new committee that will likely support Score Runoff Voting (SRV) as a voting method reform. The Portland group had originally formed in expectation of backing a statewide initiative to use IRV in state elections. It affiliated with our RCV Oregon network as we were discussing the possible shape of such an initiative in our FaceBook group. Shortly after this some proponents of SRV joined the discussion. When the co-petitioners of the Benton County RCV campaign asked us to delay any statewide plans as they sought state funding to implement RCV in their county, RCV Oregon agreed and counseled the Portland group to do so as well. The Portland group’s focus then shifted to a possible local RCV initiative just as the IRV vs. SRV discussion was heating up. Continue reading

Voting Reform in Maine and Canada Stalls

Voting reform efforts involving ranked choice voting (RCV) have stalled in Maine and Canada. In November of last year Maine voters passed an historic initiative to use RCV in elections for federal and state offices. Recently the President of the Maine Senate persuaded the body to request the state Supreme Court for an opinion on the new law’s constitutionality. The Senate complied with a 24-10 vote. The court has not yet responded, leaving the measure in limbo. At issue are two provisions in the state constitution. One would have elections won by a plurality rather than a majority as RCV requires. The other provides for votes to be counted by cities and towns, whereas implementing the RCV initiative is expected to use centralized counting by the Secretary of State. Continue reading

2nd Ranked Choice Voting Portland Meeting Held

On Saturday January 28 supporters of ranked choice voting in Portland, Oregon, met for the second time. Those present heard presentations and committee reports and decided on a social media platform for communications to build consensus around plans for next steps. About 43 people were present, an increase over the first meeting held in December.   Continue reading

Portland Meeting Time & Place Changed

    The time and place of the meeting for Ranked Choice Voting Portland has been changed. It is still planned for Saturday January 28. The time has been moved from 3-4 pm to 3:30-5:30 pm to allow more time for discussion. The place has been changed from the Hollywood branch of the public library in Portland to the Central Library downtown, 801 SW 10th, to accommodate more people. On the agenda are reports from committees looking into the possibility of a local initiative for ranked choice voting, and continuing discussions about statewide organizing and whether or when to pursue a statewide ballot initiative.

Jan. 28 Meeting in Portland

Ranked Choice Voting PDX will be hosting a second meeting on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 3 to 4 pm at the Hollywood Branch of the Multnomah County Public Library. RCV supporters from other areas of the state are invited as well.The proposed agenda includes: Creating a structure for the organization (e.g., formal roles, deliberation and decision methods) Report on the Facebook discussion (statewide and local initiatives, instant runoff and score runoff) Lessons from the success in Maine Reports from research teams (vote tabulation equipment, offices to target) This author (Alan Zundel) will be there and will report here afterward for those who could not make it.

Ranked Choice Voting Group Organizing in Portland

More than 25 Ranked Choice Voting enthusiasts met in Portland on Saturday, December 3rd. Energy was high in the room due to the recent RCV wins in Benton County, Oregon, and in Maine. The group decided to organize for a possible local RCV initiative and to explore ties with a statewide network, RCV Oregon. Alan Zundel and Mike Alfoni were there to share their insights and answer questions. Alan was actively involved in the early planning for the Benton County campaign and heavily involved in the signature gathering phase. Mike came on board as campaign manager at about that point to guide the campaign to success. Continue reading

Ranked Choice Voting PASSES in Benton County!

BENTON COUNTY MEASURE 2-100 RANKED CHOICE VOTINGNEWS RELEASEFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 8, 2016CONTACT: Blair Bobier 503.559.6176Dan Rayfield 541.745.8874 RANKED CHOICE VOTING CAMPAIGN MAKES HISTORY Benton County the First in Oregon to Adopt RCVBenton County voters approved Measure 2-100 today, a pioneering Ranked Choice Voting initiative, making the County the first in Oregon to adopt the innovative voting method. The Measure won by 54%-46%. On the other side of the country, Maine looked likely to be the first state to approve Ranked Choice Voting for statewide elections.“We made history today,” said Blair Bobier, a Benton County Planning Commissioner and one of two Chief Petitioners for the initiative. “This is one small step for Benton County and one giant leap for Oregon democracy.”The passage of Measure 2-100 means that Benton County will use Ranked Choice Voting for electing local officials as soon as funding is procured for educating voters about the change in voting methods. The Measure specifies that county taxpayers will not be on the hook for this expenditure—the funding will come from either the State of Oregon or sources such as non-profit organizations.State Rep. Dan Rayfield, the measure’s other Chief Petitioner, said “Oregon is a nationally recognized leader of voting innovations like vote-by-mail and automatic voter registration. Ranked Choice Voting continues this pioneering tradition. Benton County’s Ranked Choice Voting deserves the support of all Oregonians as a blueprint for the future of Oregon’s democracy.”-30- www.betterballotbenton.com