| Cody Mann | Albany Democrat Herald |

OREGON – In a first for the city, Corvallis voters will use ranked choice to pick the next mayor.

Ranked choice voting will also be applied to Ward 9’s council race. In both cases, there are three contenders vying for a position in the Nov. 8 General Election.

Corvallis adopted RCV for municipal elections earlier this year.

Ranked choice could shake up status quo

Ranked choice proponents say that the standard system works against third- and fourth-party candidates because voters often have to choose between voting for the candidate they really like and picking one of the major candidates as the “lesser of two evils.”

Examples of how ranked choice voting could have changed outcomes can be found in election history:

  • In the May 2020 Democratic primary for secretary of state, Shemia Fagan won with 36.23%, edging Mark Hass by 4,450 votes out of more than 578,000 cast. And Jamie McLeod- Skinner finished third with 27.55%. Under ranked choice it would have taken just a moderate edge in No. 2 votes for Hass to pass Fagan.
  • In the May 2020 Republican primary for District 5, four candidates received 18% of the vote or more, with Cliff Bentz triumphing at around 37%. Ranked choice could have shown a different outcome for Knute Buehler and Jason Atkinson, who finished second and third behind Bentz, with about 26% and 23%, respectively.
  • Other examples include the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. In the crucial state of Florida, polls showed that 60% of voters supporting Green party candidate Ralph Nader would have supported Gore in a two-person race. And history might have changed.
  • And then there’s the 1992 presidential race in which Democrat Bill Clinton received 43%, Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush 38% and independent Ross Perot 19%. To crunch the numbers another way 57% of voters rejected Clinton and 62% of them said no to Bush. Ranked choice could have told a different story.

Benton County became the first county in Oregon to implement ranked choice during the 2020 Board of Commissioners fall election. County voters passed Measure 2-100 installing the system by 54% in 2016. The Corvallis City Council adopted ranked choice voting for municipal elections earlier this year.

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