Benton County's Ranked Choice Voting Proposal
Recently the Better Ballots for Benton County campaign submitted signatures to have an initiative appear on the November ballot that would change the process of electing County-wide officials from a First Past the Post system to a Ranked Choice system. Now the signatures still need to go through the verification process, but in all likelihood the good citizens of Benton County will be be voting on this matter come November.
Ranked Choice voting, also known as Alternative Voting or Instant Runoff voting is a system designed eliminate the effect of "spoiler candidates" and prevent strategic or defensive voting AKA voting Trump simply to block Clinton or vice versa. Ranked Choice voting intends to more accurately represent the voting population and encourages candidates to reach out to groups they otherwise wouldn't bother with, because now they have a stake in being that groups second choice. For a more detailed explanation of the problems with the First Past the Post system and the benefits of Ranked Choice voting I suggest watching these two videos.
Problems with First Past the Post
Ranked Choice/Alternative Vote Explained
Now this is all very exciting for me because in addition to being a political science nerd who is interested in different voting methods, I also helped implement Ranked Choice voting as the system used in the Oregon State University student government elections. In 2014 I was appointed to be the Chief Elections Officer for Oregon State University. Not wanting to go through go through the logistical nightmare of holding a primary and general election within two weeks of each other, and maybe being a little bitter about losing my race for student body Vice President the year prior in a six way race, I looked for ways to improve on the current system, and I am really pleased with the results we had.
So I am really excited to see what happens with the Benton County initiative. I don't know anything about the legality of the process under Oregon's constitution, but I am glad the conversation is expanding. We have to ask ourselves if our current election system is designed to most accurately represent the will of the voters and if the answer is no, we shouldn't be afraid to put forward new ideas like with Ranked Choice Voting.