By Alan Zundel and Mark Frohnmayer
Chief petitioners

October 11, 2018

Frustrated by politics? Remember, democracy has always been a work in progress.

Oregon has long been a pioneer in that progress, from the initiative and referendum a century ago to the mail-in ballots and “motor voter” registration of today. Now Lane County voters have the chance to pioneer the next phase of democratic reform, by bringing STAR Voting to Lane County.

STAR stands for “Score Then Automatic Runoff.” With STAR Voting a voter can score any of the candidates for an office on a scale from zero to five, with zero meaning “no support” and five meaning “full support.” This gives you the chance to express your views more clearly and frees you from dilemmas such as choosing between candidates you like equally or between one you like a lot and a second choice who may have a better chance of winning.

The ballots are then counted in a unique two-step process. The first count determines which two candidates received the highest overall scores from voters. The second count is the “Automatic Runoff” between these two finalists, in which your vote goes to the one you scored higher. The candidate who gets the most votes in the runoff wins.

But why replace our current election method?

Our county elections currently use the “top two” system of a primary election in the spring that narrows the field to two candidates (or often only one candidate) for the general election in the fall.

If one of the candidates gets a majority in the primary, that candidate wins and the voters in the general election get no other choice — this despite the fact that the voters who participate in the general election vastly outnumber those who participate in the primary.

If no candidate gets a majority in the primary, the “top two” candidates with the most votes go on to the general election, even though each received only a minority of voter support. This two election process (primary and then general) makes for a long campaign season, which wearies both voters and candidates. It also advantages the best-funded candidates because long campaigns cost more money.

STAR Voting would replace the two election process with one election in November. It eliminates the problems (and extra costs) of holding a primary for these nonpartisan offices, gives every voter a say in both steps of the process, and produces winners with broad support. It is also fair to all candidates and gives voters the ability to have their say on any candidates they have an opinion on.

Frustrated by politics? Here’s a chance to change the process. We have filed a petition to bring STAR Voting to elections for Lane County offices, and we need your help to make it happen! Learn more at

Alan Zundel and Mark Frohnmayer are the chief petitioners for the STAR Voting for Lane County initiative. Alan is a former political scientist and Mark is a local entrepreneur; both have been active in election reform efforts for several years.


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