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.