Oregon to decide on ranked-choice voting ballot measure in 2024



Oregon will be the fifth state to vote on a ranked-choice voting (RCV) ballot measure. On June 25, the Oregon House and Senate passed House Bill 2004 (HB 2004), sending the proposed change to the ballot for voters to decide on Nov. 5, 2024.

Should voters approve the ballot measure, RCV would be implemented for federal and statewide offices, including the president, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor, secretary of state, attorney general, state treasurer, and commissioner of labor and industries. The ballot measure would not change state legislative elections. RCV would be used in partisan primaries and general elections for these offices and take effect in 2028.

Voters in Maine (2016), Alaska (2020), Massachusetts (2020), and Nevada (2022) have decided on ranked-choice voting ballot measures. In Maine, Alaska, and Nevada, voters approved the ballot measures. In Nevada, citizen-initiated constitutional amendments require voter approval at two general elections, meaning voters will decide on the measure for a second time in 2024. Voters in Massachusetts rejected the ballot measure.

Unlike the previous four ballot measures, which were put on the ballot through citizen-initiated signature drives, the Legislature voted to place the measure on the ballot in Oregon.

In the Legislature, the votes broke down along partisan lines. Democrats supported sending the ranked-choice voting measure to the ballot. Republicans opposed the measure. In the Senate, one Democrat — Rep. Mark Meek — opposed the measure, and one Republican — Rep. Lynn Findley — supported the measure. Statutes do not require the governor’s signature to be referred to the ballot.

House Speaker Dan Rayfield, who was a chief sponsor of the measure, said, “Ranked choice voting will give voters more choice, encourage voter engagement, and strengthen our democracy by improving peoples’ perception of elections and election outcomes. House Bill 2004 would make sure people in power are elected by a true 50% majority.”

State Rep. Bobby Levy (R-58), who voted against HB 2004, said, “Ranked choice voting ultimately disconnects voters from issues and allows fringe candidates to win elections. We cannot afford to join the handful of states replacing traditional elections with the obtuse deconstruction of political accountability.”

In 2022, voters in Portland, Oregon, and Multnomah County, Oregon, approved charter amendments to adopt ranked-choice voting. Voters in Benton County, Oregon, adopted RCV in 2016.

The state ballot measure is one of three that the Legislature passed on June 25. The two other measures, which voters will also decide in 2024, are constitutional amendment, whereas the ranked-choice voting measure is a statute. One of the constitutional amendments, House Joint Resolution 16, would allow the Oregon State Legislature to impeach and remove elected state executives. The second constitutional amendment, Senate Joint Resolution 34, would create a commission to set certain public officials’ salaries.

From 1985 to 2022, the Oregon State Legislature referred 114 binding measures to the ballot. Voters approved 75, or 65.8%, and rejected 39, or 34.2%. During an even-numbered year, like 2024, the Legislature referred an average of four to five measures to the ballot during the 1985-2022 period. The Legislature can refer more measures to next year’s general election ballot during the 2024 legislative session. Campaigns for citizen-initiated ballot measures have until July 5, 2024, to file signatures.

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