Oregon Voters Will Make the Call on Ranked Choice Voting

The Oregon legislature has approved legislation to place Ranked Choice Voting before the voters during the 2024 election. If approved, they would join Maine and Alaska in offering the alternative voting structure.

Oregonians will get the final say on whether their state becomes the third to adopt Ranked Choice Voting as its base general election structure. HB 2004 passed the state legislature an will be delivered to the Governor.

From coverage on the NBCNews website:

A burst of states, cities and counties have adopted the model in recent years, though Oregon is the first state in which the Legislature approved sending the question to voters.

In ranked choice elections, voters identify their first choices on their ballots, then rank the other candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes on the first count, the election moves to an instant runoff. The candidate with the fewest votes gets eliminated, and ballots cast for that candidate are recast for voters’ second choices. The process repeats itself until a candidate reaches a majority.

An analysis on the Reason website discusses the political arguments for and against the system:

But there’s little evidence that ranked-choice voting hinders voter engagement and participation. FairVote notes New York City saw its highest turnout in 30 years when ranked-choice voting debuted in its 2021 primaries. The group points to several other locations that saw increased turnout after implementing ranked-choice voting. Voters who have filled out a ranked-choice ballot say they are not confused by the system.

Ranked-choice voting gives some teeth to voters who don’t want to support divisive candidates or campaigns propped up by the machinations of local party officials. It is not some electoral silver bullet. Nothing is. But the goal of ranked-choice voting is to elect candidates most voters are willing to live with. Not for nothing, the system also allows voters to support third-party candidates without worrying that they’re throwing their votes away.

The issue of Ranked Choice Voting has been around in political circles for some time, to some offering a preferred alternative to discern voter preferences beyond the “pick one (often of two)” general election offering. MACo’s Conduit Street Podcast covered the topic in 2018:

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties