Press

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.

Independent Party of Oregon adopts STAR Voting for 2020 Primary

 

Independent Party of Oregon Will Use STAR Voting In 2020 Primary Election, Open to all Independent and Non-Affiliated Voters

 

In a historic milestone for election reform, Oregon’s largest bloc of voters will use STAR Voting for the Independent Party of Oregon’s May Primary Election, the first time in history the innovative new voting method will be used in a major election.

 

Eugene, Oregon, April 7, 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 today. Voting will open on April 28th and close on May 12th, and will feature nominations for statewide offices as well as a Presidential Preference Poll.

“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 Independent Party primary, 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."

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. STAR Voting represents a nationally viable alternative to the traditional “Choose-Only-One” voting method, which election experts have identified as the 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. In 1902 Oregon was the first state in the country to implement a ballot initiative and referendum process, known then as “The Oregon System,” which was widely adopted across the country.

Media Contact:

Jonathan Miller
pr@equal.vote

 

About the Equal Vote Coalition - 

The Equal Vote Coalition is a nonpartisan organization and registered 501c3 nonprofit dedicated to promoting true equality in the vote itself. It’s work centers around electoral research and voting reform, as well as community education and coalition building to promote better elections, and a more equitable and representative political discourse. 

Eugene City Council Public Forum: March 9, 2020

The March 9th Meeting of the Eugene City Council was the last chance for public testimony before the scheduled April 8th, 12pm Eugene Work Session on STAR Voting, when a referral for STAR Voting to the Eugene ballot is expected to take place. Watch the video below to see the public's testimony.

 

Note that public testimony can also be submitted online via the city managers office at:

https://www.eugene-or.gov/524/Public-Participation

Readers respond: STAR voting is the change we need

 

 

Midterm Election Day has passed. Here in Lane County, Measure 20-290 to amend our charter by adopting Score Then Automatic Runoff voting failed. This measure needed only a little more than a 2 percent increase to pass. People fear change, but I believe the real reason 20-290 didn’t pass is a lack of information disseminated among the electorate and misinformation from others, despite the great efforts made by volunteers and petitioners to inform voters. Out of the 181,925 ballets case in Lane County only 158,490 voted on this measure. That’s 23,435 votes of apparently undecided, poorly informed voters who might have tipped the scale in favor of STAR if they’d had access to unbiased information. STAR is not Ranked Choice Voting, it is a new idea. It’s a way to address many of the problems of our current plurality voting system, in which you can vote as long as you belong to one of the two majority political parties. STAR is one vote per person, but no more voting for the lesser of two evils.

Yes, it’s new and different. So was voting by mail a few years ago. I encourage you to educate yourselves. Let’s put STAR to a statewide vote next go around, then the whole nation.

Keith Walker, Eugene


Click here to read on Oregon Live

PRESS RELEASE

WORLD’S FIRST CAMPAIGN FOR STAR VOTING MOVES TO NEXT STAGE:

Lane County petitioners celebrate historic first campaign to institute STAR Voting

Eugene, OR, November 6th, 2018. Campaign organizers and volunteers gathered Tuesday night to watch the election returns roll in for the world’s first campaign to institute STAR Voting in public elections. STAR Voting would have replaced Lane County’s “Top Two” primary/general election system with a single November election using STAR Voting. STAR Voting allows voters to support candidates on a 0–5 scale, and elects the majority favorite between the two top-scoring candidates. Although the final tally was 42.0% in favor and 46.4% opposed, with 11.6% abstaining, campaign supporters were jubilant.

“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.”

If measure 20–290 had passed, Lane County, OR would have been the first in the world to adopt a voting method in which every citizen’s vote carries equal voting power. The fundamental inequality with the current “Chose-One-Only” ballot, comes from vote-splitting, where similar candidates can leave supporters divided and conquered, allowing a candidate who was opposed by the majority to win. Vote splitting is at the root of the Spoiler Effect, which then leads to polarization, strategic voting, and wasted votes.

Campaign manager Sara Wolf had this to say, “Voters we talked with were overwhelmingly positive and supportive of STAR Voting once they had the chance to learn about it. Unfortunately, we did hear from a number of voters who had left the question blank on their ballots due to confusion on the ballot language. The ballot title referred to Score-Then-Automatic-Runoff Voting but didn’t use the more common name, STAR Voting. The number of voters who left the question blank was more than double the amount needed to have
secured a win, so this may have been a significant factor.

“This narrow loss has stoked our fire and has left us hungry for more. We went into this as impassioned and inspired election reformers. We came out seasoned organizers with a stellar proposal, top-notch educational materials, a committed canvassing team, and over 70,000 new fans. This is only the beginning. Look out 2020!”

The campaign plans to “Open Source” all of the educational materials it created as a STAR as a campaign starter kit for reformers around the country.

A video overview of the STAR Voting system can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VerGTcCex8k

20–290 Lane County Adopts STAR Voting
Yes: 74408
No: 82157
Total 156565
Abstain: 20534

YES: 42.0%
NO: 46.4%
Abstain: 11.6%

KVAL

 

Click images to watch or to read on original site. 

LANE COUNTY, Ore. - Some election reformers in Lane County have a new idea, and want to see this fall if we're ready for change.
It's called the "STAR" voting system.
Chief petitioners, Mark Frohnmayer and Alan Zundel think enough voters in Lane County are frustrated enough with the election status-quo to try something new.
STAR is an acronym that stands for score then automatic runoff.
Frohnmayer adds STAR voting would let people vote the old-way if they want. You'd assign a "5" to the candidate of your choice, leave the others blank and move on.

Lane County Ballot Measure Asks Voters To Approve A New Voting Method

On the November ballot, Lane County voters will be asked to decide whether or not to institute a new voting method, called STAR voting, for non-partisan elections.

STAR stands for Score, Then Automatic Runoff. Under the STAR voting method, ballots would list every candidate and allow voters to score them zero to five. The two highest scoring candidates are the finalists for an automatic runoff. Your vote goes to whichever of those two received your higher score.

Measure 20-290 will only appear on the Lane County ballot. One of the petitioners is Eugene businessman Mark Frohnmayer.

Among other benefits, Frohnmayer says the STAR method prevents vote splitting or the “spoiler effect.”

“Any time there are more than 2 candidates in a race today, the vote is inherently unequal,” Frohnmayer says...

 

Click here to read full article or to listen to the interview.