STAR Voting: Heal Democracy!

Sara Wolk
Sara Wolk
Aug 3, 2018 · 4 min read

by Sara Wolk, Chief Petitioner for “STAR Voting for Multnomah County” and PDX chapter leader for The Equal Vote Coalition and Represent.Portland

Necessity is the mother of invention and not surprisingly this has been a groundbreaking year for election reform. In Oregon the Equal Vote Coalition is collecting signatures for twin ballot initiatives in Multnomah and Lane Counties to fundamentally change the way we vote. If successful, we will have elections for the first time EVER where the voting system doesn’t play favorites, where every vote makes a difference, and where voting your conscience is the best strategy. This is what democracy looks like!

“Rise above the polarization and allow voters to show their full opinion!”

With STAR Voting you just give each candidate a score from 0–5. You only need to vote once in November and those ballots are counted in a 2 step process:

First: All the scores from all the ballots are totaled and the two highest scoring are finalists.
Second: Your ballot already shows which finalist you scored higher. The finalist preferred by more voters wins.

Unlike our current system the star ballot lets us show our full, honest opinions and the implications are groundbreaking. Even if your favorites can’t win, your vote still makes a difference and helps prevent your worst case scenario. No matter how many candidates are in the race STAR Voting is highly accurate at electing the candidate that best represents the people.

The fight for the Equal Vote:

It all comes down to “One Person One Vote”. This fundamental concept is at the core of a just democracy and it goes much farther than simply making sure we each get a ballot on election day. “One Person One Vote” mandates that we all have an “Equally Weighted Vote”. Specifically, your vote should be just as powerful as mine, no matter where we live, how many candidates we like, or if we are in a minority faction. The test of balance is this: Any way I vote, you should be able to vote in an equal and opposite fashion. Our votes should be able to cancel each other’s out.

The Equal Vote is the key in the fight against Gerrymandering and it’s the key in addressing the Electoral College. The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that equality of voting — one person, one vote — means that the weight and worth of the citizens’ votes as nearly as is practicable must be the same. The core of our voting system is how we fill out our ballots and how we vote. It’s time to bring this standard to the ballot itself.

Unfortunately, under our current “vote for one” system our votes are only equal if there are two candidates in the race. If there are more than that it fails the test of balance miserably and vote splitting is the consequence. These days we often see the majority split between two similar candidates, allowing the wrong candidate to win. It’s known as the “Nader Effect” or “Spoiler Effect” and it happens all the time in elections with three or more candidates. It’s how Trump won the Republican Primary. Vote splitting leaves us divided and conquered. STAR Voting solves vote splitting and the Spoiler Effect by giving each voter an Equally Weighted Vote.

There are moments in history, tipping points, where exerting a small amount of pressure can create exponential change on every other issue that’s important to us. Voting reform is that opportunity and the time for STAR Voting is now!

Check out the “STAR Voting for Multnomah County” website to learn more:

“What is an Equal Vote”

The Equal Vote Coalition

County Democrat Reader

Official Publication of Portland’s Multnomah County Democrats

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