SALEM, Ore. — Initial results from this year's Independent Party primary in Oregon returned some surprising outcomes from the state's Independent and unaffiliated voters in a novel online voting system.
This year the Independent Party primary took place online, using a ranked choice-adjacent voting method called STAR Voting.
That said, the primary was not so forgiving for Democrats in other state races. Independents favored Republican Kim Thatcher for Secretary of State over any of the Democratic candidates, though the runoff race between her and Independent Ken Smith remained too close to call.
For State Treasurer, voters preferred Independent candidate Chris Henry and Republican Jeff Gudman over Democrat Tobias Read. The runoff between Henry and Gudman was also too close to call.
"The people voting in our election are clearly swing voters," said Independent Party co-chair Rob Harris. "These results mirror national data showing that Independents are not satisfied with Donald Trump's leadership and are looking for change. The state results show Oregon independents are looking for alternatives to Democratic leadership."
A statement from the Independent Party said that 40 ballots had been flagged due to issues with their credentials, and those voters will have one week to correct the problems before the election is certified.
The Independent primary was open to both the state's 123,189 Independent voters and the 962,453 non-affiliated voters — together, the state's largest voting bloc. However, initial results from the online Independent primary show only 725 eligible voters participated.
Read the article on KDRV.com.
Uphill Media sat down with Progressive Washington to talk about STAR voting, ranked choice voting, proportional representation, vote by mail, and more. Check it out here.
"The Independent primary was conducted online using the STAR voting system. The Independent Party of Oregon is considered a minor party because their membership makes up less than 5% of registered voters in the state, which is necessary to qualify under Oregon law for a printed ballot primary to be conducted by state and county election officials.
Registered Independent party and nonaffiliated Oregon voters were allowed to participate in the STAR voting system. Voters were verified based on a valid form of government identification."
"For months, this year’s race for Oregon secretary of state has had a typically partisan hue: Democrats are trying to regain their dominance of the executive branch, while Republicans defend the sole statewide office they hold.
Now, the only candidate who has experience in the Secretary of State’s Office is hoping to change that narrative.
Rich Vial, who resigned his position as deputy secretary of state in January, revealed in recent days he’s mounting an atypical run at Oregon’s second highest executive position.
Once presumed a leading contender for the Republican nomination, Vial has decided to eschew the two-party system. Instead he’s running as a non-affiliated candidate, and hoping that the roughly 34% of Oregon voters who, like him, don’t currently subscribe to a single party, can propel him to the November ballot.
“I think voters generally will come to a place where they say that the two-party system is broken and we need to do something different,” Vial told OPB, nodding to repeated legislative sessions marred by disputes and Republican walkouts. “It sure feels like with the last couple of sessions we’ve had, this could be the time.”
But in order to make his case statewide, Vial will need to emerge victorious in an unprecedented election. He’s hoping to win the online-only primary being run by the Independent Party of Oregon, which is opening up its contest to IPO members and unaffiliated voters alike.
That election will include a “STAR” voting system, in which voters rate the candidates on a scale of zero to five. It will also feature leading Democratic candidates in the race — state Sens. Shemia Fagan and Mark Hass, and former Congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner — along with Sen. Kim Thatcher, who is vying for the Republican nomination."
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.
"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)."
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.
Click here to read on Independent Voter News.
May 8, 2020
Willamette Wake Up discusses ranked choice voting and STAR voting with Oregon voting method reform expert Alan Zundel.
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.