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Ranked-choice voting may come to Oregon

Ranked-choice voting may be coming to Oregon. House Speaker Dan Rayfield told the Bend Bulletin last week his name may be on the bill that aims to do it in the next legislative session.

Rayfield believes Oregon is ready. One of the criticisms of ranked-choice voting is: It is complicated. He said his young son understands how it works. He is certain Oregonians will get it.

Ranked-choice voting can select a candidate who has broad support. It can help enable people to vote for who they truly want to win, rather than doing calculations about who has a chance at winning.

Ranked-choice voting works like this: Let’s say there are several candidates running. If in the first vote tally one person has more than 50% of the vote, that person wins. But if they don’t, voters had the chance to rank each of the candidates in order. The candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated. In the next round, people who voted for that candidate, get their second pick. And so on until one candidate has a majority. Even voters who don’t get their first-choice candidate can affect an election.

Rayfield believes it is a better system that allows people the freedom to vote for who they really want to win without feeling like they are throwing their vote away. Right now, if a Democrat is running for office against a Republican and sees a Conservative Party candidate enter the race, he or she is likely pleased.

The same thing goes if a Republican running for office against a Democrat sees a Green Party candidate join the race, there’s likely a similar reaction.

In either case, the third-party candidates may get some votes but any votes they do get will likely only just hurt their opponent. In ranked-choice voting, they might be taken more seriously.

Does ranked-choice voting solve voting and elections? No. It might be an incremental improvement that ensures broader support of the candidate who wins.

It does not mean more moderate candidates would always win. You can puzzle out scenarios that could lead to more extreme candidates winning.

Should Oregon do it? Tell your legislator what you think.