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STAR Voting:

a cutting edge proposal for our elections

from the Equal Vote Coalition

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Thank You Lane County!!!

Measure 20-290: STAR Voting for Lane County came just short of a win on election day. November 6th, 2018. The historic measure lost with 42.0% in favor and 46.4% opposed, with 11.6% abstaining. 

“Almost 75,000 Lane County voters chose YES to support a fundamentally new political process,” said Co-Petitioner Mark Frohnmayer. “This result, for a brand new system that many voters only learned about when they received their ballots three weeks ago, is simply phenomenal. It speaks to voters’ frustration with the political status quo, the long term political viability, and the common sense accessibility of the STAR Voting reform. We are deeply grateful for the incredible support from our volunteer team and our peers around the county. We’re just getting started.”

 

The fight for fair elections continues. Sign up to help us get an initiative for STAR Voting in your area for 2020. The time to start is now! 

 

With STAR Voting, we could skip the low-turnout primary election.

Voters would only need to vote once in November for those offices. 

 

Then, those ballots are counted in a 2 step process:

First:   All the scores from all the ballots are totaled and the two highest scoring are finalists.

Second: If you had a preference, your ballot already shows which finalist you scored higher. The finalist preferred by more voters wins.
 


In the runoff, your ballot is your one vote. If you had a preference, your full vote goes to the finalist you scored higher. If you gave both the same score, that is a vote of no preference. In the example above 58% of voters preferred Penelope.

The runoff round allows you to vote your conscience, even if none of your favorites are strong contenders. If your favorites can't win, your vote still makes a difference and helps prevent your worst case scenario. 
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Click here to learn more about Lane County measure 20-290 and what's wrong with the current jungle primary
voting method used in Lane County elections.


STAR Voting can be adopted for elections with or without a primary


STAR Voting is highly accurate with any number of candidates in the race so it can be used without a primary, as is being proposed for Lane County Elections. STAR Voting can also be used for primary races where a primary is required or desired. We recommend skipping the low-turnout primary where possible for a number of reasons. Skipping the primary would save taxpayers money, would save voters time, and would make it more accessible for grassroots candidates to run for office. 
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STAR Voting does a great job at accomplishing our goals:

 

*   Honesty is the best strategy. Strategic voting is not incentivized.

Voters' best bet is to give their favorite(s) 5 stars, to give their least favorite(s) a zero, and to show their preference order and degree of support between the other candidates. 


*   Highly accurate, no matter how many candidates/parties are in the race. 

STAR eliminates vote splitting and the "Spoiler Effect". 


*   No parties, candidates, or voters are excluded.

The single non-partisan general election ensures that our most important decisions are made in the election where the most voters are active. Every voter deserves to have someone they support on the ballot and when voters have candidates the believe in they turn out in much higher numbers. 


*   Every voter has an equally weighted vote.

Our current system does not give ever voter an equally-weighted vote in elections with 3 or more candidates and yet the the Supreme Court has ruled that One-Person-One-Vote requires the "weight and worth" of each vote to be as equal as is practical. 


*   STAR Voting doesn’t give anyone an unfair advantage.

Our current system gives major advantages to the two major parties, and yet when it fails due to the "spoiler effect" it fails in favor of the more extreme and polarizing candidates. Other proposed voting systems are a step up, but can also play favorites. In contrast, the combination of the expressive ballot and the Equal Vote makes STAR Voting fair and equal. 


*    Combats the influence of money in politics. 

Solving the "spoiler effect" would be a big deal for grassroots candidates and those without big money backing. STAR Voting would eliminate the incentive to only vote for the front-runner on your side who has raised the most money. Rather voters could vote based on the merits of the candidates themselves.  

Eliminating the primary would also make it more accessible and affordable to run for office. Candidates would only need to run one race, and could do the bulk of campaigning in the summer. It's much easier to connect with voters when the weather is good and people are out and about. 


*   Even if your favorite can’t win your vote helps prevent your worst case scenario. 

If your favorites don't make the runoff your vote can still make a difference! In the runoff, your ballot is counted again but this time we aren't looking at your preference order, not the specific scores given. Your ballot becomes your one vote. Your vote goes to the finalist you scored higher.

If you gave both finalists the same score your ballot is counted as "no preference" in that round. For example if you gave both finalists 5 stars, that is a win-win for you. If you gave them both a 0 that shows that you dislike them both equally. 

If you do have a preference between candidates you are encouraged to show it. The ability to give candidates the same scores in STAR Voting is one of the reasons STAR is highly accurate even in elections with larger fields of candidates. 


*   STAR Voting can be locally tabulated using the current process.

STAR Voting is "precinct summable". That means that STAR ballots can be counted locally, are easy to audit, and are more resilient to fraud or hacking than Ranked Choice systems.

Because STAR Voting is tabulated using just basic addition it is compatible with our current voting machines and would only require a simple software upgrade from the manufacturer. STAR Voting is fully compatible with paper ballots and works fine for hand recounts. 


*   Fully constitutional in Oregon, and around the country. This is a nationally viable proposal. 

Here in Oregon our state constitution explicitly allows for alternative voting systems including rating systems, ranking systems, hybrid systems like STAR, and proportional representation systems, but other states are not as lucky. For example, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) recently was passed in the state of Maine, but was ruled unconstitutional. As a result it can only be used for some races and not others. Many states require a win "by plurality" and don't allow systems where the winner of the election can change after subsequent rounds of counting.

Ranked Choice Voting also runs afoul of the One-Person-One-Vote mandate, as some ballots will be "exhausted" and not end up being counted in the final round of voting. RCV doesn't provide an equally-weighted vote. 

STAR Voting was created to better accomplish the goals of systems like RCV while addressing these flaws and issues. If passed STAR would become the gold standard for One-Person-One-Vote. 

 

*   Fights polarization.

The combination of the Equal Vote, the incentive and ability to vote honestly and expressively, and the non-partisan election format means that we believe STAR is our best bet to combat polarization and end 2 party domination. 

In our current system even partisan voters are getting the short end of the stick. Whether STAR Voting is used for non-partisan races (as is being proposed in Lane County, Oregon,) or if it was eventually used for partisan races like our presidential primary, STAR would allow candidates who best represent their voters to rise to the top.

Because STAR Voting allows voters to support multiple candidates there is no reason for a party to become divided if it has more than one faction with significant support. For example Democratic Voters could have supported both Hillary and Bernie and Republican voters could have supported both Trump and Rubio, to varying degrees. 

This would allows similar candidates to campaign in coalition if they shared a platform and values. Preference voting in general has been found to encourage positive campaigns and to discourage mud-slinging!