Outside Source

Star Voting is the way to heal democracy

By Sara Wolk, PCP, SCC Delegate and Executive Director of the Equal Vote Coalition

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!” www.starvoting.us

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 a 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!

See the Equal.Vote coalition’s positions on current preference voting bills in Salem.


Black Leadership in Oregon History

During Black History Month, it’s good to reflect on just a few of the many leaders of color, who have worked hard for equity and inclusion and helped make Oregon a better place. This month, Multnomah County Democrats want to honor people who blazed trails and worked with many others to bring change to our state.

Avel Gordley

Avel Louise Gordly is an activist, community organizer, and former politician in Oregon, who in 1996 became the first African-American woman to be elected to the Oregon State Senate. She served in the Senate from 1997 to 2009. Previously, she served for five years in the Oregon House of Representatives.

After five years at Pacific Northwest Bell, she enrolled at Portland State University, earning a degree in the administration of justice.[1] Though an avid reader, it was not until her time at Portland State University that she was first exposed to African American literature and noted how she had not been exposed to this during her time in the public school system.[2]During her time at PSU she also applied to participate with Operations Crossroads Africa and was accepted, sending her to West Africa with most of her time spent in a small village in Nigeria, all of which would go on to be a life-changing experience.[2] In 1974, she became the first person in her family to graduate from college.[2] After graduating, Gordly began working with the State of Oregon Corrections Division as a counselor in a work release facility for women where she noticed racial bias that led to work release for black women and education release for white women. [3]


Willie Beatrice Barrow (née Taplin; December 7, 1924 – March 12, 2015) was an American civil rights activist and minister. Barrow was the co-founder of Operation PUSH, which was named Operation Breadbasket at the time of its creation alongside Rev. Jesse Jackson. In 1984, Barrow became the first woman executive director of a civil rights organization, serving as Push’s CEO. Barrow was the godmother of President Barack Obama.[5]

When she was 12, she organized a demonstration with fellow students to protest that white students were allowed to ride the bus, but black students had to walk to school. Barrow confronted the bus driver and demanded that he let her fellow students ride.[6] When the bus driver confronted her about it she said “Y’all can kill me if you want to. But I’m tired.”[7] When Barrow turned 16, she moved to Portland, Oregon, to study at the Warner Pacific Theological Seminary (now Warner Pacific College). While still a student, Barrow and a group of black residents helped build one of the first black Churches of God in the city; she was ordained as a minister after graduation.[8] She started working as a welder during World War II at the Kaiser Shipyards in Swan Island, Washington, where she met Clyde Barrow, whom she married in 1945 in Washington state.[9]


Willie Barrow

Beatrice Morrow Cannady (January 9, 1890 – August 19, 1974)[1] was a renowned civil rights advocate in early 20th-century Oregon, United States. She was editor of the Advocate, the state’s largest African-American newspaper.[2] She was also co-founder and vice president of the Portland, Oregon chapter of the NAACP.[3][4]

Upon moving to Portland, Cannady became associate editor of The Advocate.[6] Her work through the newspaper drew attention to racial violence during the early 1920s and prompted a statement from Governor Ben W. Olcott decrying the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, which was spreading through Oregon at the time.

In addition to her editorial work, Cannady helped to establish the Portland chapter of the NAACP in 1913. This organization marked the first such branch of the organization formed west of the Mississippi River[7] and continues to actively participate in the Portland community. Acting as the chapter’s secretary, Cannady worked with the group to remove racist, exclusionary language from Oregon’s constitution, a mission which succeeded in 1926 and 1927 when the changes were ratified.[8] Cannady also led protests against Ku Klux Klan propaganda film The Birth of a Nation.[2]

Cannady graduated from Northwestern College of Law in 1922, making her the first black woman to graduate from law school in Oregon.[9] She went on to become the first black woman to practice law in Oregon.[10] A Republican, she was the first black woman to run for state representative.[9] Cannady successfully advocated for the passage of civil rights bills by the Oregon state legislature. Her efforts helped integrate public schools in Longview, Washington and Vernonia, Oregon.[2]

In 1927, Cannady represented Oregon at the 4th annual Pan-African Congress in New York City.[11]

William Arthur Hilliard (May 28, 1927 – January 16, 2017) was an American journalist. He was editor of The Oregonian, the major daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon, from 1987 to 1994 and was that newspaper’s first African-American editor. He was also president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1993–94.

As a youth, he applied for a job as a newspaper delivery boy for The Oregonian, but his application was rejected out of concerns that having a black delivery boy would not be acceptable to the paper’s white subscribers.[2][4] He graduated from Benson Polytechnic High School, where he had worked on the school newspaper, and spent a year in the U.S. Navy after being drafted at the end of the Second World War.[3]

Hilliard worked at The Oregonian from 1952 to 1994, starting as a copy boy, and then rising to clerk, sports reporter, religion and general assignment reporter, and in 1965 assistant city editor. In 1971, he became city editor, and in 1982 was named executive editor.[4] He oversaw the merging of the paper with the Oregon Journal in 1982.[4] His first big story was the Holt Korean Babylift in 1956. When he was named city editor it was considered national news, warranting an article in Time Magazine. In 1980 he served as one of four panelists in the nationally televised debates between President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.[1]

In 1987, Hilliard was named editor of The Oregonian, with “full control over the newspaper’s news and editorial departments.”[2] He was the newspaper’s first African-American editor.[4] He introduced zoned suburban coverage and expanded coverage of minorities issues, as well as increasing the hiring of minorities by the paper. While he was editor two staffers complained to him about how the nicknames of sports teams were demeaning to Native Americans. Under Hilliard’s leadership The Oregonian stopped using demeaning sports nicknames in 1992, and the newspaper also stopped identifying people by race in crime stories unless absolutely necessary.[1]

Hilliard served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in 1993–94,[4] the first African-American to be elected to that position.[1] In 1993, he was given the President’s Award of the National Association of Black Journalists, which called him a role model.[1] He remained editor of The Oregonian until retiring in 1994,[4] although during the last year of his tenure with the paper he gave his designated successor, executive editor Sandra M. Rowe, effective control of the editor’s duties and focused his attention on ASNE duties.[3]

In 1998, Hilliard was given the Oregon Newspaper Hall of Fame Award by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.[7]

In 2002, when it was discovered that USA Today reporter Jack Kelley had fabricated some of his stories, USA Today turned to Hilliard, along with veteran editors John Seigenthaler Sr. and Bill Kovach, to monitor the investigation.[8]

William “Bill” McCoy (June 11, 1921 – April 1996), was an American politician from Oregon. In 1972, he was the first African American elected to the Oregon State Legislature. After serving one term in the Oregon House of Representatives, he was appointed to serve in the Oregon Senate. In the next election he was elected to the same seat and served until his death in 1996. His senate district covered North Portland and much of Northeast Portland.[1] He was a Democrat.

One of McCoy’s first actions after being elected to the Oregon legislature was to introduce House Resolution 13, ratifying the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which Oregon had never formally ratified after rescinding a previous ratification.[3]

McCoy Park in Portland is named for Bill McCoy and his wife Gladys, who became the first black member of the Portland school board in 1970, and the first black Multnomah County commissioner in 1979.[4]

The Dream, a sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr. in Portland, is dedicated to Bill and Gladys McCoy.[5]


Bill McCoy