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Ranked Choice Voting Debuts In Benton County

Chris Lehman

Voters in Benton County will be the first in Oregon to use a method of voting that allows them to rank candidates in their order of preference.

It’s called “Ranked Choice Voting.” In a race with three or more candidates, voters can mark their first, second, or third choices and so on. If no single candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, then the person who got the fewest votes is eliminated and their supporters’ next choices are distributed among the remaining candidates.

Blair Bobier was one of the chief petitioners of the 2016 local initiative that brought Ranked Choice Voting” to Benton County. “Ranked choice voting gives more voters more power," he said. "They get to decide what to do with their votes and get to express their preferences. You don’t have to worry about vote-splitting or spoiler candidates. Anybody can run. They can’t be accused of being a spoiler.”

In Benton County, the system will only be used for general election races for county commissioner. There are two such contests on the ballot this fall. The Benton County elections office has created a websiteto help voters learn more about Ranked Choice Voting.

According to the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center, Benton County will be one of more than a dozen municipal governments around the country to use Ranked Choice Voting for local elections. It's been adopted most broadly in Maine, which uses it for statewide elections.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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