Oregon Senate Bill 791 and 343 seek to establish ranked-choice voting as the default voting system in Oregon, receiving open testimony on 16 March. Oregon House Bill 3250 aims to implement STAR voting as the default voting method. Its hearing date is yet to be determined.
The ranked-choice voting method receives a ranking from each voter. Each voter “votes” for the highest-ranking candidate on their list. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the method eliminates the candidate with the fewest votes from all ballots. The process continues until one candidate receives greater than 50% of the vote.
STAR voting stands for “score then automatic runoff,” STAR Voting uses a score voting method, in this case, a range of 0 to five with unmarked candidates receiving a set score of 0. The automatic runoff happens between the top two score candidates where they are compared, ballot by ballot to determine which voters had preferred the most often.
If ranked-choice voting becomes the law of Oregon it will become the third state after Maine and Alaska adopt such a system. If STAR Voting becomes the law, Oregon will go into the history books as the first state to formally use a score voting method to conduct its elections. Score voting methods include any method where all voters score all candidates and the high score wins. Approval voting is another such form, but the greater range of Oregon’s STAR Voting legislation offers voters more ability to show nuance on their ballot.