What is Ranked Choice Voting?

What is it?

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) has recently gained public attention across the U.S., and has been implemented in various state and local governmental elections.

The Oregon legislature has been holding hearings (March, 2023) on this matter while considering two potential laws. Become a better informed voter and learn more about this election method.

  • HB 2004 Establishes ranked choice voting as voting method for selecting winner of nomination for and election to offices of President of United States, United States Senator, Representative in Congress, Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and Attorney General.
  • HB 3509 Establishes ranked choice voting as voting method for selecting winner of nomination for and election to nonpartisan state offices and county and city offices except where home rule charter applies.

Fair Vote says

How RCV works

Ranked choice voting (RCV) — also known as instant runoff voting (IRV) — improves fairness in elections by allowing voters to rank candidates in order of preference.

RCV is straightforward: Voters have the option to rank candidates in order of preference: first, second, third and so forth. Votes that do not help voters’ top choices win count for their next choice.

It works in all types of elections and supports more representative outcomes.

Oregon RCV says

A recent survey conducted by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center found that only one-third of Oregonians think that the process for electing the governor and state legislators should stay the same. Many said that the current system is obsolete, and that in a world where third- and fourth-party candidates are entering races there needs to be a way to determine a winner that the majority of people support. 

Fortunately, there is a relatively simple way to do this and it’s called runoff elections. The theory is simple — if no single candidate gets more than half of the vote, then the two highest vote getters face off in a runoff election, mano a mano. We already do this for the office of commissioner for the Bureau of Labor and Industries. Earlier this year a special election for the seat vacated by Val Hoyle did not give any one of the three candidates a majority of the vote. So now voters have an opportunity to vote again, this time for the two who received the greatest number of votes in the May election.

From Time Magazine

From the Pew Charitable Trust

From Harvard Law School

From the City of Portland

From the Council of State Governments

From the Center for Civic Design (research)

From Tufts University Institute for Democracy

What do oregon County Clerks/Election Officers Say?

What does LWV Oregon say? Election Methods Position Adopted 2017

The League of Women Voters of Oregon recognizes that election methods affect how voters participate in our democracy, who can run for office, and who can get elected. Therefore, the League supports election methods that:

  • Encourage voter participation and voter engagement.
  • Encourage those with minority opinions to participate.
  • Are easy to use.
  • Are verifiable and auditable.
  • Promote access to voting.
  • Promote competitive elections.
  • Promote sincere voting over strategic voting.
  • Discourage negative campaigning.
  • Prevent political manipulation (e.g. Gerrymandering).
  • Are compatible with vote-by-mail elections.

The League of Women Voters of Oregon does not believe that plurality voting is the best method for promoting democratic choice in all circumstances.  For single-winner systems, the League supports ranked-choice voting; we do not support range or approval voting. The League of Women Voters of Oregon supports election systems that elect policy-making bodies–legislatures, councils, commissions, and boards–that proportionally reflect the people they represent. We support systems that promote stable government, but we do not support systems that protect the two-party system. The League of Women Voters of Oregon supports enabling legislation to allow local jurisdictions to explore alternative election methods. If an alternative election method is adopted, then funding for startup and voter education should be available. The League of Women Voters of Oregon does not support nonpartisan elections for state legislators. (Previous position) Adopted 2009 The League of Women Voters of Oregon believes that any election method should be evaluated on its ability to:

  • Promote voter participation.
  • Be simple and easy for voters to understand.
  • Be verifiable and auditable.
  • Promote access to voting.
  • Promote competitive elections.
  • Prevent political manipulation.
  • Be compatible with vote-by-mail elections.

The League supports enabling legislation to allow local jurisdictions to explore alternative election methods, e.g. instant runoff or fusion voting. If a local jurisdiction adopts an alternative election method, that jurisdiction should bear the costs of startup and voter education. Only after experience and evaluation at the local level should the state consider alternative election methods for statewide adoption. The League does not support nonpartisan elections for state legislators.

Get informed! Stay informed! Learn how your vote functions.

LWV Klamath County talks to Sheriff Kaber

The League of Women Voters encourages voter education and participation. One way to learn about offices, candidates, and issues is to speak to candidates before elections (see our past Candidates’ Forum). Another way is to speak to elected officials, either new or returning. In May, 2021 we spoke to Klamath County Sheriff Kaber to learn his views on policing and free speech. The results of our interview are below.

Sheriff Kaber

  1. Sheriff Kaber first listed the various functions of his department, including patrol, jail supervision, civil areas, Klamath Community College, County schools, boating control on waterways, and federally mandated duties.
  2. He stressed that his first mandate for deputies is a “conservator of peace”, or a “peacekeeper”. He referred to his partnership with KBBH, where mental health professionals ride with patrols at least 24 hours/week, and are able to intervene when needed to help law enforcement when mental health intervention is needed. He also noted that his department helped with the homeless population by using his budget and facilities to provide lunches to the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission on weekends.
  3. When asked about possible new federal funding for COVID relief for Klamath County, Kaber noted his department costs of $140K to provide COVID-specific services to the jail including sanitizing. He said he would seek reimbursement for these costs if possible.
  4. Kaber was asked about any department policy regarding the management of “First Amendment assemblies” in the community and he later provided the written document (read it here: https://www.lwvklamath.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/KCSO-Policy-466-First-Amendment-Assemblies.pdf). He stated his department in cooperation with KFPD develops “action plans” as a contingency for any such events, while ensuring a peaceful and lawful demonstration. His department works with the city in holding meetings, planning for, and responding to events.
  5. When asked about his deputies receiving “de-escalation training” (see an example HERE), Kaber said he received none when he began working many years ago. However, these days his deputies receive a lot of de-escalation training. In fact that is a large portion of what they learn when dealing with the public and complaints. This happens both at the academy and with their Training Officers. What they don’t get is a lot of de-escalation training on how to respond to large assemblies (protests). Kaber said that almost every call is daily training on how to lower emotions and solve problems between people.
  6. Kaber was asked about his department receiving false rumors vs. actual intelligence on relevant activities. He noted that they use the state’s “fusion center”, which surveys social media and other sources of potential information, and tries to squash false rumors when they arise. He gave an example of current “water issues” and an organization called peoplesrights.org which might mobilize 70-80 members to attend a weekly meeting at the “headgates” of the Klamath River. Such action could potentially be viewed as threatening, and his department must determine their response.
  7. Kaber was asked about any potential federal infrastructure funding, and he discussed a possible community task force to offer input. However, all county funding decisions must ultimately be addressed by the County Commisioners.

We encourage the voting public to learn about the views and actions of all elected officials, to voice their opinions, and to vote at all elections.