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Corvallis will elect its next mayor using Ranked Choice Voting

Chris Lehman
Voters in Corvallis will use Ranked Choice Voting to select a new mayor this fall. One city council race will also be decided using the method.

Voters in Corvallis will choose a new mayor this fall using a voting method that allows people to rank candidates in order of preference.

Ranked Choice Voting is sometimes called “instant runoff voting,” and is only used when there are at least three candidates on the ballot. That’s true for the mayor’s race and one city council race in Corvallis this year.

If no single candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the initial count, then the candidate with the least support gets removed from consideration. Then, elections officials consider the second choice candidate on the ballots of people who voted for the person who was eliminated.

The process is repeated until one candidate clears the 50 percent threshold. It means the winner has at least some support from a majority of voters, even if that person wasn't their first choice.

Corvallis voters may be somewhat familiar with the system, as it was used in a pair of Benton County commissioner’s races two years ago. Earlier this year the Corvallis City Council approved the use of Ranked Choice Voting in races for mayor or city council.

Supporters of the voting method say it’s the first time in the modern era that a city in Oregon will choose a mayor this way, though Portland used a similar system for a few years in the early 20th century. Some states have used Ranked Choice voting to select a governor or members of Congress.

An effort to enact Ranked Choice Voting more broadly in Oregon failed to gain the signatures needed to appear on this year's ballot, but backers of that effort said they will press lawmakers to take up the issue during the 2023 legislative session.

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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