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:

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

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



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. 

IVN In Full Color

Click here to listen to podcast!


In the latest episode of “In Full Color,” IVN Editor Shawn Griffiths discusses a new voting method with Sara Wolf, campaign manager for STAR Voting for Lane County in Oregon that could change the way we look at elections.

Imagine you could rate candidates on the ballot like you rate your Uber driver or a product on Amazon? That’s the idea, and advocates say it gives all voters an equal vote, provides a more accurate and more representative look at how voters view each candidate, and elects the best candidates.

Shawn and Sara get into the origins of STAR Voting, how it works, the campaign to get it implemented in Oregon, and more. Want to know more? Leave us your questions, comments, or feedback and get more on the In Full Color column on

Quinn to FairVote

STAR allows voters to approach voting by just honestly rating the candidates. The two most popular and least divisive candidates will naturally rise to the top and become finalists. Then, in deciding between those two finalists, everyone’s vote counts equally, whether you rated them [3 and 4] or [5 and 0]. That way, you don’t have to worry about strategies such as exaggerating the score difference between the two frontrunners.

STAR is promoted by two local voting reform organizations: the Equal Vote coalition and STAR voting for Lane County. Meanwhile, the two largest national voting reform organizations—FairVote and the Center for Election Science—have not explicitly endorsed it. I think that’s a mistake. And the way FairVote specifically has handled this is a big mistake...

Click here to read full article. 

Creswell Chronicle

By Alan Zundel and Mark Frohnmayer
Chief petitioners

October 11, 2018

Frustrated by politics? Remember, democracy has always been a work in progress.

Oregon has long been a pioneer in that progress, from the initiative and referendum a century ago to the mail-in ballots and “motor voter” registration of today. Now Lane County voters have the chance to pioneer the next phase of democratic reform, by bringing STAR Voting to Lane County.

STAR stands for “Score Then Automatic Runoff.” With STAR Voting a voter can score any of the candidates for an office on a scale from zero to five, with zero meaning “no support” and five meaning “full support.” This gives you the chance to express your views more clearly and frees you from dilemmas such as choosing between candidates you like equally or between one you like a lot and a second choice who may have a better chance of winning.

The ballots are then counted in a unique two-step process. The first count determines which two candidates received the highest overall scores from voters. The second count is the “Automatic Runoff” between these two finalists, in which your vote goes to the one you scored higher. The candidate who gets the most votes in the runoff wins.

But why replace our current election method?

Our county elections currently use the “top two” system of a primary election in the spring that narrows the field to two candidates (or often only one candidate) for the general election in the fall.

If one of the candidates gets a majority in the primary, that candidate wins and the voters in the general election get no other choice — this despite the fact that the voters who participate in the general election vastly outnumber those who participate in the primary.

If no candidate gets a majority in the primary, the “top two” candidates with the most votes go on to the general election, even though each received only a minority of voter support. This two election process (primary and then general) makes for a long campaign season, which wearies both voters and candidates. It also advantages the best-funded candidates because long campaigns cost more money.

STAR Voting would replace the two election process with one election in November. It eliminates the problems (and extra costs) of holding a primary for these nonpartisan offices, gives every voter a say in both steps of the process, and produces winners with broad support. It is also fair to all candidates and gives voters the ability to have their say on any candidates they have an opinion on.

Frustrated by politics? Here’s a chance to change the process. We have filed a petition to bring STAR Voting to elections for Lane County offices, and we need your help to make it happen! Learn more at

Alan Zundel and Mark Frohnmayer are the chief petitioners for the STAR Voting for Lane County initiative. Alan is a former political scientist and Mark is a local entrepreneur; both have been active in election reform efforts for several years.


To read on the Creswell Chronicle website click here:

Voter's Guide. Measure 20-290

Lane County, OR Voter's Guide for Nov. 6th Election, 2018

Measure 20-290 Lane County: Amends charter, adopts “Score, Then Automatic Runoff” voting for elections. 

Arguments in favor: 9

Arguments opposed: 0

Argument in Favor


I’ve been a voting theorist for over 20 years. I’ve designed a voting method used by the Hugo awards, served as a board member for the Center for Election Science, and done voting research at my Harvard doctoral program. Of the dozens of voting methods I know about, STAR Voting is one of the very best for single-winner political elections.

No method is perfect, but STAR does an excellent job of balancing simplicity for voters, resistance to strategy, and excellent outcomes. When I simulated millions of elections using a sophisticated model of how voters cluster ideologically, none of the more than a dozen other methods I tested could beat STAR– none regularly produced election winners that satisfied the simulated voters more.

Mathematicians have proven that in any democratic system there are cases where some voters might get an advantage by strategizing based on how they expect others to vote. But in STAR Voting simulations, these cases were rare and minor compared to other methods, particularly our current “choose-one” system, but also other contemporary reforms based on ranking. That is to say, STAR allows voters to be honest about whom they like, and by how much. If you like a minor candidate, you won’t be forced to choose only a “lesser evil” out of fear, and if you like a major candidate, you won’t lose just because a similar candidate splits the vote.

STAR is also practical. Because it allows votes to be tallied at the precinct level, with only overall tallies transmitted to a central location, it is easy to audit or recount by hand if necessary, giving added confidence that election results are accurate.

Voting reformers have shown that when votes really count, more people vote and are satisfied with the outcome. STAR Voting is the next step on that path, and Lane County, Oregon is leading the way. Please support STAR Voting’s adoption in Lane County by voting YES on Measure 20-290.


(This information furnished by Jameson Quinn.)

Argument in Favor


STAR Voting does a great job at accomplishing the goals of Progressive Oregon. It’s honesty is the best strategy. Strategic voting is not incentivized. It’s accurate, no matter how many candidates/parties are in the race. No parties, candidates, or voters are excluded, every vote has an equally weighted vote.

STAR Voting doesn't give anyone an unfair advantage. Even if your favorite can’t win, your vote helps prevent your worst case scenario. It’s Constitutional, secure, and precinct summable and likely to end two party domination.

Progressive Oregon endorse a yes vote on Measure 20-290.


(This information furnished by Dan Jensen, Chair, Progressive Oregon.)

Argument in Favor


I encourage you to support STAR Voting for Lane County Officers

We have a unique opportunity to improve our voting processes, starting here, in Lane County.

Score Then Automatic Runoff “STAR Voting” is designed to elect leaders that unite us, rather than divide us.

We all read the headlines, bearing witness to a partisan election system that encourages candidates to adopt divisive platforms in order to win in their primary races. Unfortunately, many politicians that make it through this process are not in a position to constructively work together once elected. They have simply made too many promises at the fringes to work effectively across party lines.

The STAR Voting method is designed to favor candidates that appeal to the broadest range of voters. Its major benefit, once we grow to trust this new process, is the ability to expand STAR Voting for use in all elections – opening a path for candidates to more effectively compete for the political center from the beginning of their campaigns through to election day.

Meanwhile, STAR Voting will allow us to save money, once it is up and running, because it is a more efficient election process.

I encourage you to vote FOR STAR Voting, a system where leaders who bring people together have the electoral advantage.

R. Jordan Papé


(This information furnished by R. Jordan Papé.)

Read more

Eugene Weekly Local Endorsements


Local Measures

• 20-290 Lane County: Amends charter, adopts “Score, Then Automatic Runoff” voting for elections. Yes.

America needs a new election system. Measure 20-290, known as “Score, Then Automatic Runoff” (STAR), proposes a solution that could work. STAR voting allows you to score candidates — from zero to five. The two candidates with the highest scores are then taken to a second round. From there, the candidate preferred by the most voters wins.

STAR Voting would remove the spoiler effect, so you can go ahead and vote your conscience. Imagine that. We could have an actual democracy. The spoiler effect of “choose one” has resulted in Republican presidencies that the majority of Americans didn’t vote for. (To be fair, Hillary Clinton and Al Gore were both weaker candidates, and it makes sense that some people would gamble and vote for Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders.)

STAR would also remove the need for a primary election by consolidating it into one election — which would have more turnout. Just take the East Lane County Commissioner race. Voters had to choose among six candidates. The problem is that the 2018 primary election had a low turnout of 35 percent. Essentially one-third of county voters dictated which commissioner candidates would show up on the November ballot. STAR supporters say their system will allow candidates to avoid the primary election and can instead campaign during the more pleasant summer — and it would take some of the money out of county races.

For those who are concerned about the STAR system jeopardizing our election system, this will only be used for the nonpartisan county races of county commissioner. Some call STAR Voting not ready for primetime. However, reforming our broken election system requires throwing something out there. Are you going to keep a bird in its nest forever just because you’re worried it’s not ready to fly?

To read about other local endorsements from Eugene Weekly click here.

Suislaw News


Oct. 17, 2018 — The future of voting in Lane County in non-partisan elections will be decided this November as electors decide on Measure 20-290.

The question put forth to voters is: “Shall Lane County amend Charter to adopt ‘Score then Automatic Runoff’ method for counting candidate votes in local office races?”

The measure would look to affect two aspects of Lane County voting: Primaries and how citizens vote.

“I think it’s a powerful, revolutionary first step,” Hallie Roberts, campaign manager for STAR voting, told the Siuslaw News in June. “I don’t think it’s a cure-all patch for everything, but I think it’s absolutely a step in the right direction for our voting method. Whatever changes need to be made to go along side of it, we can address those one at a time.”

Roberts believed STAR would not be the end-all-be-all to fix voting America, but rather acting as a first step to a broader conversation in how America elects its officials.

While the measure would only affect non-partisan races held in Lane County — city races, like mayoral candidates, would not be affected — Roberts hopes that a successful rollout of the program would lead to a broad adoption of STAR throughout the state, revolutionizing how Oregonians vote.

Click here for full article.

For Lane County Voters: STAR Voting Explained

Lane County voters will soon be asked to decide the outcome on STAR voting Measure 20-290. The initiative proposes a change in the voting method for non-partisan elections.

Advocates say the method would equalize the voting process. They also acknowledge many people “fear change.”  KLCC's Tiffany Eckert sat down with two people who helped get STAR voting on the ballot: Mark Frohnmayer and Alan Zundel. When ballots arrive in the mail next week, they hope voters will remember that “vote by mail” was once a new idea in election reform too...