The Portland Charter Review Commission is considering whether to send ranked-choice voting or STAR voting to voters (“Portland charter reform: Proposed changes to city government, elections begin to take shape,” March 9). Its most recent reports indicate that members are leaning toward ranked-choice voting. I do not believe ranked-choice is legal in Portland under state law, but STAR voting would be. Three reasons why: State law requires each county to process its own votes; Portland is part of three counties; with ranked-choice voting, you cannot tally any subset of ballots in a way that is meaningful to the overall results. In other words, ranked-choice must be centrally tabulated, while STAR voting can be summed at the county level.
We should not send a measure to voters that cannot be implemented. Six municipalities in the U.S. have adopted ranked-choice but have not been able to implement it due to legal and technical issues. The Portland Charter Review Commission’s voting-method subcommittee recommended STAR voting after doing extensive research. It is a robust, equitable and innovative voting method that is vastly simpler than ranked-choice on every metric.
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