Gets 65% support in ranked choice voting; Salinas dominates delegates in Sixth District congressional race
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) — Democrats attending the Oregon Summit in Sunriver this weekend used ranked choice voting to conduct their biennial straw poll, which illuminated two clear front-runners among the party’s gubernatorial and Sixth Congressional District candidates.
The results came in just after midnight Sunday morning, after 141 ballots were cast, according to a news release from Ranked Choice Voting Advocates.
While the straw poll of party faithful took place at the summit, it was not officially sanctioned by the party.
Tina Kotek took home a whopping 65% of the first-choice votes in the governor’s race, well ahead of the other 14 Democrats on the ballot.
In the Sixth Congressional District, Representative Andrea Salinas won with an even greater lead — sweeping more than 68% of the first-choice votes.
Per tradition, the straw poll ballot included a write-in option for “Rock Star Democrat,” which had 34 different nominations, ranging from elected officials to party activists. Roxy Mayer, who serves as the Campaign Services Director for FuturePAC, was crowned the Rock Star Democrat of 2021 at the end of the night.
Although political activists and staff have been hosting this event since 2005, this was the first Democratic straw poll to utilize ranked choice voting.
Oregon Republicans used ranked choice voting for the first time last weekend as well during their annual Dorchester Conference on the coast. Former Alsea school superintendent Marc Thielman came out on top after several rounds, followed by Portland consultant Bridget Barton.
Attendees chose former Happy Valley mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer in the race for the redrawn Fifth Congressional District, which runs from Portland to Bend, while Rep. Ron Noble of McMinnville topped a large slate of Republicans in the new Sixth District.
Here’s the rest of the Ranked Choice Voting Advocates news release:
Ranked choice voting (or RCV for short) is a simple alternative to Oregon’s existing voting system. RCV allows voters to express their support for multiple candidates at once, in order of preference — first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on. This allows every voter a more comprehensive and representative say in elections.
Unlike in current elections, where candidates can win with excruciatingly slim margins, Ranked Choice Voting elects candidates who reach a true majority. In RCV, voters can vote their conscience, knowing that the most widely-supported candidate will always win.
This eliminates the fearful guessing-game that voting can become, especially in crowded races like we’re seeing this election cycle. With 15 or more candidates to choose from but only one choice among them, our current system is not conducive to the kind of fair, representative elections that Oregon voters want.
“In our current system, many good candidates are discouraged from running for fear of splitting the vote,” said Mike Alfoni, Executive Director of Oregon Ranked Choice Voting Advocates, which co-sponsored the straw poll event hosted by Pac/West Lobby Group and Ridgelark Strategies. “RCV is the solution — giving voters more choice and making it easier for more representative candidates to run.”
With historic nationwide adoption in recent years, Ranked Choice Voting is now used in a majority of states at some level, including Oregon’s own Benton County.
Oregonians can expect to see legislation around Ranked Choice Voting in the coming year, as momentum continues building for this voting system on both sides of the aisle.
Oregon Ranked Choice Voting Advocates is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization championing electoral reforms related to Ranked Choice Voting. They are part of a growing coalition of community-based organizations dedicated to bringing more voices and greater diversity to Oregon’s government. To learn more about Ranked Choice Voting, visit: https://www.oregonrcv.org/
Background: With Ranked Choice Voting, voters mark their ballots in order of preferences — first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on. If a candidate reaches a simple majority (more than 50% of the vote), that candidate is elected just like now. If no candidate receives more than 50% of first choice votes, second choices come into play. It’s like existing runoff elections, but they happen back-to-back right away, and only require one ballot. If nobody wins a majority, ballots for the candidate with the least votes are recounted. If your first choice candidate was removed, your vote counts for your second choice. If a candidate now has a majority, they win. If not, more “instant runoffs” happen until the most supported candidate wins with a majority.
Voters can rank candidates in any order they choose — even if their favorite candidate has no real shot at winning. If your first-choice candidate gets eliminated through the rounds of RCV described above, then your second-choice candidate receives your vote instead. This means that no matter what, every voter gets a say in every election. This is a win-win for voters and candidates alike.
In RCV, ranking is also optional. Voters can opt to select just one candidate, like they would know, if they prefer — although ranking other candidates will never hurt a voter’s first choice.
Oregon’s Constitution has allowed RCV since 1908. Benton County has already implemented RCV for its elections.
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