Lane County petitioners celebrate historic first campaign to institute STAR Voting

Eugene, OR, November 6th, 2018. Campaign organizers and volunteers gathered Tuesday night to watch the election returns roll in for the world’s first campaign to institute STAR Voting in public elections. STAR Voting would have replaced Lane County’s “Top Two” primary/general election system with a single November election using STAR Voting. STAR Voting allows voters to support candidates on a 0–5 scale, and elects the majority favorite between the two top-scoring candidates. Although the final tally was 42.0% in favor and 46.4% opposed, with 11.6% abstaining, campaign supporters were jubilant.

“Almost 75,000 Lane County voters chose YES to support a fundamentally new political process,” said Co-Petitioner Mark Frohnmayer. “This result, for a brand new system that many voters only learned about when they received their ballots three weeks ago, is simply phenomenal. It speaks to voters’ frustration with the political status quo, the long term political viability, and the common sense accessibility of the STAR Voting reform. We are deeply grateful for the incredible support from our volunteer team and our peers around the county. We’re just getting started.”

If measure 20–290 had passed, Lane County, OR would have been the first in the world to adopt a voting method in which every citizen’s vote carries equal voting power. The fundamental inequality with the current “Chose-One-Only” ballot, comes from vote-splitting, where similar candidates can leave supporters divided and conquered, allowing a candidate who was opposed by the majority to win. Vote splitting is at the root of the Spoiler Effect, which then leads to polarization, strategic voting, and wasted votes.

Campaign manager Sara Wolf had this to say, “Voters we talked with were overwhelmingly positive and supportive of STAR Voting once they had the chance to learn about it. Unfortunately, we did hear from a number of voters who had left the question blank on their ballots due to confusion on the ballot language. The ballot title referred to Score-Then-Automatic-Runoff Voting but didn’t use the more common name, STAR Voting. The number of voters who left the question blank was more than double the amount needed to have
secured a win, so this may have been a significant factor.

“This narrow loss has stoked our fire and has left us hungry for more. We went into this as impassioned and inspired election reformers. We came out seasoned organizers with a stellar proposal, top-notch educational materials, a committed canvassing team, and over 70,000 new fans. This is only the beginning. Look out 2020!”

The campaign plans to “Open Source” all of the educational materials it created as a STAR as a campaign starter kit for reformers around the country.

A video overview of the STAR Voting system can be found here:

20–290 Lane County Adopts STAR Voting
Yes: 74408
No: 82157
Total 156565
Abstain: 20534

YES: 42.0%
NO: 46.4%
Abstain: 11.6%