Ranked Choice Voting Debuts In Benton County

Oct 16, 2020

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.

This ballot drop box stands in front of the Benton County courthouse in Corvallis. Benton County voters will be the first in Oregon to use Ranked Choice Voting this fall.
Credit Chris Lehman / KLCC

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 website to 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.