Press

XRay FM interview with Sara Wolk and Rob Harris

May 18, 2020

XRay FM Vision 2020 interviewed Sara Wolk, Executive Director of the Equal Vote Coalition, and Rob Harris, co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon, about the IPO's historic use of STAR voting in their primary election, what it means, and what's at stake.

Click here to listen.

Why I switched from supporting Ranked-Choice voting to STAR voting

Read the whole article here.

"When counting votes, STAR voting is also simpler than IRV. With STAR, you just add up the number of stars for each candidate, find the top two and then see which of the two candidates was preferred by most voters. There are never dozens of runoff rounds like with IRV. In addition to being simpler and easier to use, STAR voting eliminates spoilers, encourages voters to always show their support honestly, and always chooses the candidate with the most support. STAR voting can be used with many voting machines currently in use (with a minor software update in some cases)."

Results Are In For First Election to Use STAR Voting

May 21, 2020

The Independent Part of Oregon made history by being the first to use STAR (Score Then Automatic Runoff) voting for a binding election. Online ballots for the party’s primary were due in Tuesday and the results are in.

First, a quick recap:

STAR voting allows voters to rate candidates on a scale of 0 to 5 -- like products on Amazon. The winner is the majority favorite between the top two candidates.

The Independent Party of Oregon (IPO) decided to use the alternative voting method in conjunction with open primaries for its 2020 primary elections. This meant not only could independent voters participate in the party’s primary, but all participants could score every candidate in each race.

The Equal Vote Coalition, which has been campaigning for STAR voting in Oregon, praised the IPO’s decision to use the new voting method in their primaries in 2020, seeing it as a potential catalyst for adoption elsewhere.

“One of the main obstacles to any new reform is that it has not been enacted. Having this opportunity to have STAR voting in a real election with real results, including the presidential preference election, is a big deal,” said Mark Frohnmayer, Founder of the Equal Vote Coalition.

Here are the results:

Over 700 people participated in the online primary -- without the public funding and resources the major parties were afforded for their primary elections. Participants voted in the presidential preference election as well as a couple of statewide races.


In the presidential preference election, Joe Biden and Donald Trump were only 230 points apart in the first round as Biden averaged a score of 2.2 points with voters and Trump averaged 1.9 points. Since they were the two highest scoring candidates, they moved on to the runoff where Joe Biden won with 52% to Trump’s 32%. Interesting to note, 9% of voters had no preference between the two.

The inclusion of “no preference” in the runoff is unique to this primary election. Nearly as many voters had no preference between the final two candidates in the secretary of state’s race as the number of people who cast a ballot for each of the top two candidates.

The Star Voting Twitter account pointed out some other interesting facts about the results:

  • The results show 3 different party affiliations winning in 3 races: A Democrat for president, a Republican for secretary of state, and an independent for State Treasurer. 
  • In a three-way race between Biden, Trump, and Sanders, Trump would have won under a choose-one voting method despite the bulk of voters preferring a Democratic candidate. This is because Biden and Sanders would have split the vote (based on how many voters scored them highest individually).
  • 71% of voters used values other than 0 or 5 to score candidates in at least one of the races.

Advocates say the ability to score candidates has the added benefit of showing how voters actually feel about each candidate rather than just forcing them to choose one or the other, giving every voter more voice in the election process.

The results indicate that independent voters and members of the IPO have a more nuanced view in elections that could otherwise not be expressed under the voting system used by most Americans. In the closed primary system Oregon uses, for instance, voters are forced to pick and side -- limiting their options severely.

STAR voting has not been incorporated into public elections yet. However, in an interview for IVN, Mark Frohnmayer said the Equal Vote Coalition is attempting to get STAR voting on the ballot in Eugene, Lane County, and Troutdale. 

What people have witnessed in Oregon and are witnessing in St. Louis represents different types of political innovation to solve the same problem: Transforming a political process that is explicitly designed to serve those in power to one that serves the people.

The voting methods might be different, but the goal is the same, and the US literally has hundreds of laboratories of democracy that can be used to experiment, collaborate, and showcase how nonpartisan reform is the key to fairer elections, greater representation, more competition, and a healthier political environment.

Shawn Griffiths

Click here to read on Independent Voter News.

Round Table with STAR Elections and the Independent Party of Oregon

May 12, 2020

The Independent Party of Oregon and STAR Elections discuss the IPO's historic use of STAR voting for their 2020 primary election.

KMUZ Interview with Alan Zundel

May 8, 2020

Willamette Wake Up discusses ranked choice voting and STAR voting with Oregon voting method reform expert Alan Zundel.

https://kmuz.org/willamette-wake-up-05-08-2020-interview-with-alan-zundell/

Oregon Voices Round Table on Voter Preference & Intent

April 24, 2020

Oregon Secretary of State candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner hosts a round table on voter intent. Mike Alfoni discusses ranked choice voting and Sara Wolk discusses STAR voting.

https://www.facebook.com/JamieForOregon/videos/548097592564061/

 

 

The Independent Party of Oregon to Make History with Brand New Voting System

April 23, 2020

For the first time in history, STAR (Score the Automatic Runoff) voting will be used in a binding election. The Independent Party of Oregon (IPO), conducting its own primary in 2020, will use the new voting method for president and other state offices.

What is STAR voting? Think about how consumers rate products on Amazon. They give the product a rating between 0 and 5 stars, which indicates not only whether or not they recommend the product, but to what degree they like or dislike it.

That is essentially how STAR voting works. Voters rate each candidate on a scale of 0-5 stars and then the winner is the majority favorite between the top two candidates.

Mark Frohnmayer, founder of the Equal Vote Coalition, praised the IPO for its decision.

“What this represents is the removal of that final obstacle to getting STAR voting implemented in a lot of different places, and that is someone has to do it first,” he said.

The Equal Vote Coalition ran a campaign to get STAR voting implemented in Lane County, Oregon, in 2018. The initiative barely failed. However, Frohnmayer says he and his group didn’t let it slow them down:

“One of the main obstacles to any new reform is that it has not been enacted. Having this opportunity to have STAR voting in a real election with real results, including the presidential preference election, is a big deal.”

The IPO, which endorsed the Lane County initiative in 2018, made the decision to go with STAR voting in their elections in early April, and have combined it with an open system where independent voters and registered party members can participate.

"We are thrilled to be the first organization to conduct a binding election using STAR Voting," said Independent Party Co-Chair Rob Harris. 

"Our hope is to use our election to show voters that how we vote in America is not set in stone. It is a matter of choice. The current system has led to a divided and dysfunctional government. We would like to show people that other, better, options are available."

Oregon has a closed primary system. However, state law gives recognized major parties the option to allow registered unaffiliated voters to request a party’s primary ballot. The Republican and Democratic Parties, however, have long locked out these voters.

However, as a result of Oregon’s motor voter law, the number of independent voters has skyrocketed as many voters are automatically registered unaffiliated of any political party. In fact, registered unaffiliated voters nearly match the number of registered Democrats.

That leaves hundreds of thousands of voters -- the second largest voting bloc in the state -- left out the taxpayer-funded primary process. 

Frohnmayer says the IPO’s continued inclusion of independent voters combined with STAR voting gives voters outside the major parties “a fantastic choice” in 2020. The party’s ballot will include candidates across parties and political ideologies for president and other state offices.

The party will use the state’s registered voter data file to ensure that voters receive a party ballot and will conduct a digital audit to verify the authenticity of the results. Voters who wish to participate in the primary will receive the ballot online, and can submit it between April 28 and May 12.

Frohnmayer says on top of its use in the 2020 IPO primary, the Equal Coalition is trying to get STAR voting on the ballot in Eugene, Lane County, and Troutdale.

Shawn Griffiths

Click here to read on Independent Voter News.

Independent Party of Oregon to utilize STAR system for primary

April 8, 2020

The Independent Party of Oregon will use STAR Voting in its 2020 May Primary Election, the first time in history that voters will have the opportunity to use the innovative new voting method in a statewide political election, the Equal Vote Coalition announced, according to a news release.

Voting will open on April 28 and close May 12, and will feature nominations for statewide offices as well as a Presidential Preference Poll. In STAR, which stands for “Score Then Automatic Runoff,” voters score each candidate on a familiar 0-5 scale. The winner is the majority favorite between the two highest scoring candidates overall.

“This is truly a milestone in election reform, continuing a long tradition of trailblazing electoral efforts in the state of Oregon,” said Mark Frohnmayer, founder of the Equal Vote Coalition. “The STAR Voting method, invented here in Oregon, offers best-in-class representational accuracy, simplicity, familiarity and expressiveness for voters, as well as transparency of election results. STAR Voting eliminates the spoiler effect and allows voters to honestly express their true preferences without fear of wasting their votes.”

More than one million voters are eligible to vote in the election, including registered members of the Independent Party of Oregon and those not affiliated with any political party. In total, this represents the largest voting bloc in the state, greater than the number of registered voters in either of the state’s major political parties.

"We are thrilled to be the first organization to conduct a binding election using STAR Voting," said Independent Party Co-Chair Rob Harris. "Our hope is to use our election to show voters that how we vote in America is not set in stone. It is a matter of choice. The current system has led to a divided and dysfunctional government. We would like to show people that other, better, options are available."

STAR Voting represents an alternative to the traditional choose-only-one voting method, which election experts have identified as a key factor leading to two party polarization in American politics. Choose-only-one voting is highly susceptible to the vote-splitting “spoiler effect,” which leads to strategic “lesser evil” voting and magnifies the influence of money in the political process.

STAR Voting continues a long tradition of Oregon firsts in election reform. In 1998, Oregon pioneered vote-by-mail, which was followed by “Motor Voter” automatic voter registration in 2016. Oregon now consistently ranks as a national leader in voter turnout.

At the turn of the 20th century, Oregon was the first state in the country to implement the ballot initiative and referendum process, known then as “The Oregon System,” which was widely adopted across the country.

Click here to read on Herald and News.

Opinion: A new kind of primary, a greater say for voters

Robert Harris and Mark Frohnmayer

Harris is co-chair of the Independent Party of Oregon. Frohnmayer is founder of the Equal Vote Coalition.

“The partisan political process is a cesspool.” “My vote doesn’t matter.” “I can’t vote for my favorite candidate because it would help my least favorite to win.” “Why can’t we have more choices?”

We’ve all heard statements like these from our fellow Oregonians. Many of us have said them ourselves. At the root of these complaints is a deeply broken voting method and election structure that divides us, minimizes our choices and magnifies the influence of special interests in the political process. Now, two organizations dedicated to improving elections and empowering more voters are working together to reinvent our political process at its foundation.

This primary election is historic for several reasons.

  • This will be the first time in history that the STAR ­– Score then Automatic Runoff – voting system will be used in a binding statewide political election. Instead of limiting voters to choosing only one candidate in the field, STAR allows voters to score each candidate on a familiar 0-5 scale. In STAR voting, the winner is determined in two simple steps. First, the scores for all the candidates are added up. The second step is an automatic runoff between the two highest scoring candidates. In the runoff, your full vote is automatically assigned to whichever of the top two you rated higher. The use of STAR in this election will give an unprecedented degree of insight into the level of support political candidates have among Oregon’s Independent and non-affiliated voters.
  • The Independent Party is running a self-funded, open primary that will empower more than one million voters who are normally locked out from the taxpayer sponsored Democratic or Republican primaries. This is vitally important as non-affiliated voters have become the fastest growing group of voters in the state, thanks to Oregon’s motor voter automatic registration system. It’s time for them to have an equal say in the process and assert their influence in a united way.
  • All leading candidates for statewide office like secretary of state will be on the same ballot, including Democrats, Republicans, Independents and non-affiliated candidates. This offers a chance not only for voters to confer the Independent nomination, but also provide data as to how these voters rate the relative strengths of candidates across party lines.

The “choose only one” voting method we use now suffers from vote-splitting, commonly known as the spoiler effect, where similar candidates on the ballot can divide supporters’ votes, leading to the election of a candidate opposed by the majority. Because STAR voting counts voters’ levels of support for all of the candidates, it eliminates the spoiler effect, and allows for competitive elections with a wide field of contenders. Voter satisfaction will improve as voters feel empowered to express their true preferences without having to worry about supporting only someone deemed “electable” just to stop their least favorite candidate from winning.

Independent Party of Oregon Makes History with New Voting Method

The third-largest political party in Oregon is answering the question: Can political parties conduct their own primary elections? The short answer: Yes, and the party is using this freedom to combine open primaries with a new alternative voting method. 

The Independent Party of Oregon lost its major party status ahead of the 2020 election cycle. However, instead of resigning itself to the sidelines while the major parties conduct their primaries, the party is using its resources to administer its own election. Just as it has in the past, the Independent Party of Oregon is also opening its doors to the state’s largest registered voting bloc, unaffiliated voters.

“They’re the largest group of voters and the most disenfranchised group of voters and they deserve to be heard,” commented Sal Peralta, the party’s secretary, to the Salem Reporter.

Oregon law allows the parties to decide whether or not to allow registered unaffiliated voters to participate in the primaries. However, the Republican and Democratic Parties have long locked out unaffiliated voters from these critical taxpayer-funded elections.

The Independent Party of Oregon will not only include its own candidates on its ballot, but qualified candidates across party lines. For instance, all 3 active presidential campaigns will be on the ballot: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, and Joe Biden.

The party will also make history by being the first to hold binding elections using a new voting method called STAR voting. STAR stands for Score Then Automatic Runoff. 

STAR voting can be simply explained as voting for candidates like one would rate a product on Amazon. Voters can assign each candidate a rating between 0-5 stars -- indicating not only preference but how voters view each candidate. The winner is the majority favorite between the top two candidates.

"We are thrilled to be the first organization to conduct a binding election using STAR Voting," said Independent Party Co-Chair Rob Harris. 

"Our hope is to use our election to show voters that how we vote in America is not set in stone. It is a matter of choice. The current system has led to a divided and dysfunctional government. We would like to show people that other, better, options are available."

The Independent Party of Oregon has partnered with the Equal Vote Coalition, which is the preeminent advocate for STAR voting in Oregon and nationwide. 

“This is truly a milestone in election reform, continuing a long tradition of trailblazing electoral efforts in the state of Oregon,” said Mark Frohnmayer, founder of the Equal Vote Coalition. 

“The STAR Voting method, invented here in Oregon, offers best-in-class representational accuracy, simplicity, familiarity and expressiveness for voters, as well as transparency of election results. STAR Voting eliminates the spoiler effect and allows voters to honestly express their true preferences without fear of wasting their votes.”

Voting in the Independent Party of Oregon’s primary will be open from April 28th to May 12th, the official date of the publicly-administered primary elections. The party says it will use the internet to deliver ballots.

Shawn Griffiths

Click here to read on Independent Voter News.