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Campaign Finance Reform with Teeth

By Gary Leitke, Election Integrity Study Group

Campaign Finance may well be the FOREMOST PRIORITY for this Oregon legislative session. Until comprehensive limits are set, elections will remain unfair and unreachable to everyday citizens. 

Voters resoundingly approved constitutional amendment Measure 107 last November, to allow finance limits, post SCOTUS Citizens United decision.

But unless follow-up legislation establishes stringent, comprehensive limits—elections will continue to be “bought” and money will steal the ability of everyday citizens to be heard fairly. Electeds will be chosen by money and subsequently influenced by money. Few of lesser means can compete as candidates. Legislation aimed to benefit everyday (esp. poor) people will be impaired. That includes many, many bills for which MultDems advocate in our Platform and support by testifying at hearings and writing to their electeds.

Our Election Integrity study group sees HB3343 as the best of 3 current limit-setting bills still alive. But we are not satisfied that any of them satisfactorily limit money flow FROM groups (e.g., PACs, SuperPACs, and party caucuses).

Unless legislation effectively limits ALL contribution sources, especially including groups, from funding a campaign, it’s like squeezing a balloon; flow may be partially restricted, but rushes in from the rest of the balloon.

Write your legislators to boldly restrict contributions by groups.

Build Back Better

The White House Briefing Room 

This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy. The American Jobs  Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. The plan prioritizes addressing persistent racial injustice and invests in rural communities and communities impacted by the transition to clean energy. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race. 

Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is widely popular 60% of US voters said they support the White House’s American Jobs Plan, including 84% of Democrats, 51% of independents and 35% of Republicans.  —Morning Consult / Politico April 2-4 2021 

We will

Modernize highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports and transit systems. 

Create good jobs electrifying vehicles. 

Deliver clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high-speed broadband to all Americans.  

Solidify the infrastructure of our care economy by creating jobs and raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers. 

Revitalize manufacturing, secure U.S. supply chains, invest in R&D, and training. 

Create good-quality jobs that pay prevailing wages in safe and healthy workplaces, ensuring  workers are free to organize, join a union, and bargain collectively with their employers.

Make our infrastructure more resilient: Safeguard critical infrastructure and services, and defend vulnerable communities.  

Produce, preserve, and retrofit more than a million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy efficient, and electrified homes. 

Modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities. 

Establish the United States as a leader in climate science, innovation, and R&D. Partner with rural and Tribal communities to create jobs and economic growth across America. 

So much more at www.Whitehouse.gov 

Corporations will do their fair share. 

Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance  committee, along with colleagues progressive Sen Sherrod Brown and centrist Mark Warner are  putting together the pay-for of this landmark jobs  plan. Built to attract widespread Senate support,  the plan will tax offshore income more aggressively  and offer new targeted benefits for companies that  invest in research and production here at home. 

We’re asking American Corporations to pay their  fair share. President Joe Biden reminds us, “You have 51 or 52 corporations of the Fortune 500  that haven’t paid a single penny in taxes for three  years,” he said. “Come on, man. Let’s get real.” 

www.nytimes.com/2021/04/05/business/raising-taxes-corpor ations.html 

Democrats Deliver

What’s in the American Rescue Plan for you and your family 

Here’s some of the tools to help us to recover our health, our schools and our economy: 

COVID Vaccinations — we’re over 200 million  doses already

The ARP invests about $160 billion to manufacture and provide the vaccines, supplies, testing, and public health workforce to stop the spread of  COVID-19 while distributing vaccines as quickly as possible to states, counties, pharmacies,  community health centers and mobile vaccinators as we continue to address racial disparities in  COVID-19 outcomes. As of April 19 — all Oregonians 16+ will be eligible to receive a vaccine. Find an  appointment https://covidvaccine.oregon.gov/ 

Safely re-open schools

Provide $130 billion to help schools serve all students, no matter where they are learning, to safely open schools and keep them open. 

These investments include set-asides at the local and state level to ensure states and districts address the learning loss and social and emotional needs of students disproportionately impacted by  COVID-19, including students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities.  

Immediate relief to American families. Direct payment of a $1,400 per-person, bringing  total per-person relief payment from this and the  December down payment to $2,000. 

Extend current unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility to September 6, with a $300 per week supplement so 18 million American workers can pay their bills. Also the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 will be tax-free. 

Help Americans stay in their homes. The pandemic has left 1 in 5 renters and millions of homeowners behind. Through states and local governments, ARP provides emergency rental assistance to cover back rent. And funds to help struggling homeowners catch up with their mortgage payments and utility costs through the  Homeowners Assistance Fund. And, it provides additional funding for families and individuals who are recovering from or at risk of homelessness. Oregon will be distributing funds at www.oregon.gov/ohcs/. Multnomah County residents will be able to access through calling 211. 

Keep food on the table

The American Rescue Plan will increase SNAP  nutrition assistance benefits by 15 percent  through September 2021. It increases Seniors’  and Women and Children’s assistance. Protects  food worker safety and support for farmers of  color. The bill also funds partnerships with  restaurants to feed American families and keep  workers in the restaurant industry on the job.  

Cut childhood poverty by half

Increase the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6). This means a typical family of four with two young children will receive an additional  $3,200 in assistance to help cover costs associated with raising children. The families of more than 66 million kids will benefit beginning this summer, with advance payments arriving as a monthly check. If you’re welcoming a new baby this year — look for the new IRS portal soon that allows you to receive your full benefit. 

Protect our Health Care

Lower or eliminate health insurance premiums for millions of lower and middle-income families enrolled in health insurance marketplaces. A family of four making $90,000 could see their monthly premium come down by $200 per month. The plan also subsidizes premiums for continuation health coverage (COBRA) for workers who had insurance through their jobs. 

Support resurgence of Small Business. Since the beginning of this pandemic, 400,000  small businesses have closed and millions more are hanging by a thread. ARP provides emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers and purchase the health and sanitation equipment they need to keep workers safe. This includes a  Small Business Opportunity Fund to provide growth capital to Main Street small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, including minority-owned businesses. And extending the  Employee Retention Credit for small businesses  through December 2021 

Provide $28 billion for a new grant program  to support hard-hit small restaurants and  other food and drinking establishments. Grants can be used for payroll costs, mortgage,  rent, utilities, new outdoor seating construction,  PPE and cleaning materials, inventory, paid sick  leave, etc This could be a lifeline for many of our  friends and neighbors. Find the details for this RRF  Grant and other SBA support www.sba.gov.  Special thanks to Congressman Earl Blumenauer  for championing this program. 

Sustaining our Arts Community

Grants for live venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theatre operators, and talent representatives that are struggling. See Shuttered Venues at  www.sba.gov 

Distribute more than $360 billion in emergency  funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal  governments to ensure that they are in a position  to keep public workers on the job and paid,  while also effectively distributing the vaccine,  scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining  other vital services. And help hard-hit public  transit agencies avoid layoffs and service  reductions, which disproportionately harm  workers who are more likely to be dependent on  public transportation.  

Keeping Fire, Police, front-line workers  on the job

American Rescue Plan Benefits Oregon 

• $2.758 billion in state fiscal relief 

• $1.5 billion in local fiscal relief 

• More than $1.1 billion in relief for K-12 schools 

• Economic impact payments of up to $1,400 per person (above the $600 per person provided in   December) for more than 2.7 million adults and   971,000 children. This is 86% of all adults in the state and 86% of all children in the state. 

• Additional relief of up to $1,600 per child through the Child Tax Credit to the families of 779,000 children, lifting 40,000 children out of poverty 

• Additional relief of up to nearly $1,000 through the Earned Income Tax Credit to 264,000 childless workers, including many in front-line jobs 

• Marketplace health insurance premiums that are $1325 lower per month for a 60-year old couple earning $75,000 per year 

Visit the White House website for more information https://www.whitehouse.gov/american-rescue-plan/ 

Thanks to our members of Congress for their advocacy and updates. 

Rep Earl Blumenauer, 

Rep Suzanne Bonamici, 

Sen Ron Wyden 

Sen Jeff Merkley 

Neighborhood Leader Program and the May 18th Elections

Biden and Harris may be in the White House, but local elections will determine how well we can build back better! School boards and special districts are on the ballot and we have very strong candidates in the mix.

Neighborhood leaders share information door-to-door (and text-by-text) to build stronger communities and get out the vote. You can hit them up for information on who will be on your ballot and why these special elections are so important. Multnomah Democrats Neighborhood Leaders will receive their briefing packets this week!

If you’d like to be a Neighborhood Leader, or you have been one in the past, check to be sure that we have your most current contact information on file.  

> Sign up for the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Neighborhood Leader Program here!

Neighborhood Leaders enjoy their "turf drop" conversations.

Committee Spotlight: Climate Action Team

Sooner or later, Oregon taxpayers will want to know how Oregon revenue is expended to protect natural resources, in the same way public health has been defended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrats should be worrying about climate solutions and policies that do not and cannot deal with effectively saving the environment from climate damage. When false solutions fail, environmental justice and equity reforms also fail. 

The MultDems Climate Action Team (CAT) has discerned some key questions for our county and our state:

What bills constitute scientifically sound solutions for decarbonization?  

We are fully engaged in supporting HB 2021-23, 100% Clean Energy for Oregon. This bill excludes any utility energy fuel that emits carbon by 2040, by statutory definition of “non emitting” fuel.

What existing policies are not measuring up to the now-increasing need for effective action?  

Emission cuts accomplished in California from relying on Renewable Portfolio Standards, Low Carbon Fuel Standards, Cap and Trade offsets and other bills and policies summed together have reduced state emissions by only 0.5% per year.  The effectiveness of Oregon’s versions of these measures has not been reported, and it is unlikely that ours will be more effective at a smaller scale. Under consideration with the CAT is a rule to rate every bill with metrics that measure its effectiveness in reducing annual carbon emissions.

To get involved, please contact Debbie Gordon at:  

Celsi Celebration Join the Big Tent Party

BUY TICKETS NOW!!

 

Last year’s Celsi Celebration (the Multnomah County Democrats’ signature fundraising event of the year) was cancelled due to the pandemic. Though a “Beyond Celsi” virtual auction raised some of the anticipated funds, it was a down year for the organization’s fundraising. We need all hands on deck to make the 2021 Celsi Celebration come back strong!

June 26th is the date for the 2021 Big Tent Party Celsi Celebration Fundraiser, with both in-person and virtual options. More details about the event will be coming soon, but volunteers and donations are welcome now.

The Celsi Celebration was named for Dick Celsi, who served as Chair of the Multnomah County Democrats during the 1970s and Chair of the State Democratic Party during the 1980s and into the 1990s. The Celsi committee is now accepting nominations for this year’s awards, and https://celsi.multdems.org/ has more information and regular updates. Email   if you’d like to join the event committee or donate items for the auction.

MARCH Digest: Strengthening Democracy

March is women’s history month, and four years ago, women took to the streets to lead protests across the US that set a tone of resistance against an autocratic president who sought to undermine our democracy. Four years later, voters rejected the trend toward autocratic rule in favor of restoring respect for the rule of law. In Georgia, Stacy Abrams spent years preparing the ground game that flipped that state blue to establish a united government under Democrats for what may be a brief window of opportunity.  

This month, in honor of the leadership of the women who pushed back against authoritarianism, the March Digest focuses on how we move forward to strengthen democracy. We have worked too hard and come too far to not go the rest of the way and pass legislation that stops voter suppression and protects democracy for future generations. HB1, the For the People Act in Congress, goes a long way to resolve many of the issues. Closer to home, the Election Integrity Caucus of the state Demoratic party released its Alternative Voting Methods Report calling out STAR Voting as the best popular alternative voting method in Oregon and calling for it’s adoption statewide.

In this issue, we will look at some of the steps we still need to take to restore and assure election integrity, including voting reform, and we’ll spotlight some of the women in our local party who are leading the charge to make sure aspiring autocrats never have a chance to gain a foothold in this country again.

Your direct voice in county decision-making is gone

A report on the state of community participation in county processes and oversight

By Bernardino De La Torre, Chair of the Multnomah County Citizen’s Involvement Committee

What has happened? Independent community involvement in Multnomah County government, created by community initiative and embedded in the County Charter, is gone – but the Charter has not changed! 

Public mistrust of government at many levels is growing. Why would a government body choose to increase that mistrust by improperly eliminating a community voice in government policy-making? Our Multnomah County government has done exactly that by co-opting and stifling the community’s voice – a Community Involvement Committee that has quietly and successfully connected the community and its government for over three decades. 

What has been lost? The CIC no longer has dedicated staff. The staff now reports to the Chair’s Office. The ability for the CIC to act quickly and independently of elected officials as an accountability mechanism is gone. None of the award winning programs and initiatives created by the CIC have continued, except for the Citizen Budget Advisory Committees (CBACS). Unfortunately, the CBACs have lost their independent status, creating suspicion of what had been truly independent budget recommendations. 

So what has been gained? Extra layers of filtering and diversion, a lack of transparency and delayed input into decision-making are now parts of the community involvement process. The record of accomplishments in the last two and a half years is nonexistent as no programs are running, no forums or workshops have taken place to gather public input regarding county policy or budget. One staff-created survey was done but only polled selected participants, with no public input into what questions were asked. The only thing that has been gained from this gutting of citizen oversight, as far as we can determine, is that the County Chair’s office now once again directly oversees the county charter review process, through her staff which now manage the CIC.

How did this happen? The transition from watchdog to lapdog.

Here’s a step-by-step process of what happened:

1)  In 2016, voters transferred coordination of the charter review appointment process from the County Chair’s office to the independent Citizen Involvement Committee (CIC).

  • The CIC had been created by voter initiative in 1984 as a government watchdog with the explicit power to hire and fire its own staff.
  • For over 30 years, the CIC managed its staff and oversaw its Office of Community Involvement, shedding light on county decision-making by involving hundreds of volunteers annually on budget and policy advisory committees. It won numerous national awards and recognition for its work.
  • That all came to a crashing halt in 2017 following a vote by citizens to transfer coordination of the charter review appointment process away from the County Chair’s Office to the independent CIC.

2) A month later, the County Chair began a relentless effort to wrest control of the CIC away from its volunteer board by taking over hiring and managing their staff:

  • After voters transferred the appointment process to the CIC, the county appointed a bunch of new CIC members and the County Chair’s Office encouraged the new CIC members to adopt new bylaws removing references to CIC supervision of its staff.
  • The county then informed the CIC that the County Chair would decide who would staff the CIC (contrary to the county charter).
  • The County Chair assigned her Chief-Of-Staff to train and supervise the new staff, asserting a new admin model for the position without discussions with the CIC or other commissioners.
  • The staff subsequently informed the CIC they would no longer supervise their own staff or oversee the Office of Community Involvement.
  • In a blatant conflict of interest, the inverted admin model effectively transitioned the voter-mandated independent watchdog organization from managing its staff to being managed BY its staff who were now taking orders from the County Chair’s Office.

3) The CIC pushed back against the illegal takeover, and staff responded by trying to discredit and oust CIC volunteers:

  • After researching the committee’s history, CIC officers were alarmed by the sudden unilateral change to the staffing structure and determined the changes were illegal.
  • Committee leaders started to present their findings to the committee, but the staff undermined their efforts saying the committee should only concern itself with the future, and not look back.
  • The committee then consulted the county Auditor who confirmed that past and current admin practices were in significant conflict, with no record of a process for making such a significant change.
  • A retreat at which the committee planned to discuss the recent changes was then canceled by staff without committee authorization.
  • In March, the CIC officers were told by the County Chair’s office that the historical independence of the CIC is ‘irrelevant’ because “Commissioners want to impose a new supervision model,” and CIC members who disagree are encouraged to resign.
  • Intent on restoring the legal authority of the CIC, the committee initiated a staff performance review. In retaliation, their staff asked County Commissioners to rescind the appointments of the CIC leaders.
  • Staff began making unsubstantiated allegations of “bullying” against committee volunteers who were asserting their right to run their own meetings in order to justify removing them from the committee, however public outcry led the Commissioners to dismiss the request.

4) Having failed to manipulate or bully the citizen watchdog committee into submission, the county disbanded the committee:

  • At its May meeting, despite staff efforts to interfere, CIC leaders were re-elected to continue the fight to restore their citizen mandate. Staff attempted to end the meeting early rather than certify the full election results.
  • In early June, the renegade staff stopped staffing committee meetings altogether, canceled meetings without authorization, and locked the committee out of their meeting room.
  • On June 22nd, the County Chair used the staff-created crises as a pretext to propose removing all members of the CIC. Rather than transfer or dismiss staff for failure to follow policy or staff the committee, the County Chair had effectively created a crisis in order to get rid of the committee that facilitates citizen input and serves a watchdog role for the county.
  • On June 28, County Commissioners voted to disband the award-winning organization due to “tension” and “gridlock” and uninvestigated staff allegations of “bullying.”
  • Seven months after voters transferred the charter review appointment process to the CIC, the County Chair effectively regained control of the charter review appointment process at the cost of undermining, defaming and disbanding its independent, voter-mandated community involvement organization.

What happened next? What has the real CIC been doing?

  • Following their ‘dismissal’, CIC officials consulted an attorney who determined the resolution dismissing the committee was not legal.
  • The CIC then held a follow-up meeting at which a quorum of members decided to restore the previous bylaws and dismissed their staff. They also voted to sue the county for the wrongful, illegal attempt to disband the Committee.
  • The county ignored their staffing decision and instead hired a private attorney to “research allegations of misconduct made against CIC members.” There was no investigation into staff misconduct, and no charges were ever brought.
  • The county also proceeded to recruit new volunteers to a new imitation CIC that takes its direction from the Chairs office.   
  • The lawsuit against the county for wrongful termination of the Citizen Involvement Committee is currently in the courts. The true independent CIC continues to meet to monitor progress in restoring the voter-mandated independence of the CIC. 

Spread the word, find out what happened and help pressure Multnomah County to restore an independent CIC!

You can show support at Follow developments at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MultcoVolunteers

 

STAR Voting Helps Create Smooth Party Elections

Here in Multnomah County, Democrats are leading the way on voting reform. We now use a preference voting system with an automatic runoff. It’s called STAR Voting, and it eliminates vote splitting, assures a winner preferred by the majority and enables voters to vote their conscience, knowing their vote will always go to the candidate they prefer most. After 18 months of study, the state party Election Integrity Caucus released its Alternative Voting Methods Report, in which STAR Voting emerged as the method that best met criteria called for in our state party platform. It’s a game-changer for democracy and we are leading the way. STAR stands for Score Then Automatic Runoff. It’s familiar and easy for voters, and we’ve now used it successfully several times to elect officers and delegates in local party elections. In both recent elections, candidates from traditionally underrepresented communities did well. From a field of over 100 candidates in the January Organizing Meeting, 20 candidates who were people of color or from other marginalized communities won 25 of 39 delegate positions (64% of the seats.), showing that STAR did not disadvantage minority candidates in that race. Similarly, at the CD3 Committee Meeting, while representing less than half the overall candidates, candidates from traditionally marginalized communities won 60% of the delegate and alternate positions. For those who have questions about STAR Voting at the 2021 Reorg, we’ve gathered some Q&A from experts who watched the elections.

On Sunday, the CD3 Committee hosted a meeting to elect new delegates and alternatives to the DPO Standing Committees. The committee used STAR Voting to run the election, and the voting system worked well to smoothly and quickly elect a group of candidates supported by the majority of all voters. Two months earlier, in January, the Multnomah County Democrats used STAR Voting to elect officers, as well as SCC Delegates and Alternates. That meeting had numerous interruptions and got sidetracked into long discussions, but the actual voting process (the act of voting and tabulating results) went smoothly and quickly. Indeed, had we been using the former system, the meeting could have taken even longer!

While most people felt comfortable using the STAR ballot and voting required minimal instructions, it is worth noting that giving proper instructions for any new voting system is important. In both sets of elections, candidates from traditionally underrepresented communities did well. From a field of over 100 candidates in the January Organizing Meeting, 20 candidates who were people of color or from other marginalized communities beat the other 80% of candidates to win 25 of 39 delegate positions (64% of the seats.), showing that STAR did not disadvantage minority candidates in that race. Similarly, at the CD3 Committee Meeting, while representing less than half the overall candidates, candidates from traditionally marginalized communities won 60% of the delegate and alternate positions.

For those who have questions about STAR Voting at the 2021 Reorg, we’ve gathered some Q&A from experts who watched the elections.

Some Questions & Answers about the 2021 MultDems Reorg

Q: The last election for MultDems used a different voting method. What was the new system?
A: In September of 2019 Multnomah County Democrats voted by a supermajority to adopt STAR Voting for all internal elections with three or more candidates. Officers are now elected using single-winner STAR Voting, and for multi-winner races such as for State Central Committee and congressional district delegates Bloc STAR is used.

The new system was first used in a Party Reorganization (regular election for party offices) on January 23rd, 2021. 

Q: Is there a voter guide for how to vote in the new system?
A: Yes. This link to the guide on how to vote with STAR Voting from the Equal Vote Coalition can be found here, in both English and Spanish. These resources are available in additional languages on request by emailing  

Q: Results were gender balanced. What does that mean and how does it work?
A: All multi-winner elections for Multnomah County Democrats are gender balanced, with neither male or female identifying candidates able to win more than ½ + 1 of the seats for each delegation. All candidates are listed on the same ballot, and non-binary candidates are able to win a seat anytime they have the most support, regardless of gender.

Gender balancing is an additional step that’s performed after the STAR Voting election is tallied. The election is tallied according to STAR Voting, and a candidate ranking is generated, showing who came in 1st place, 2nd place etc. Gender balanced winners are then selected by going down this list alternating between male and female candidaets and electing non-binary candidates any time they are at the top of the list.

Q: Why did the meeting take so long?
A: This was the first electronic Reorg meeting hosted by the Multnomah County Democrats, which is the largest county party in the state. The meeting was 100% staffed by volunteers, and included over 320 participants. There were some significant technological hurdles with credentialing, volunteer coordination, and tech support for participants, as well as the logistics of emailing multiple resources to so many people, both before and during the meeting.

Party bylaws are clear that participants should not be automatically muted, but with so many people on the call, waiting to be called on was challenging in some cases, due to the volume of participants.

A few issues came up with technology and a few mistakes were made, including a mix up with the sample ballot and real ballot links, and incorrect voting links were distributed a couple of times. Correcting the mistake ended up requiring the body to debate and then approve proposed solutions and extended timelines.

Mistakes happen and democracy can be messy, but the meeting length didn’t have anything to do with STAR Voting. Results were available following voting within the expected time frame. 

Q: What takeaways were there from the Bloc STAR election outcomes?
A: In the MultCo election, diversity won big and polarizing candidates from both factions appear to have done worse than in the past, though that is an inherently subjective determination. Here are the diversity results. “From a field of 100+ candidates, 20 diverse candidates (all but two,) won 25 of 39 delegate positions (64%.)”

Q: Slates encouraged voters to give their candidates 5 stars. Did that give them an advantage?
A: The old system, Bloc Plurality is notorious for being SUPER gameable. Factions who all voted as a block for a slate, and voted for exactly the number of candidates as the seats available, got a huge advantage in the old system. That’s why slates have historically been such a big deal. Individuals who didn’t vote with the block were at a huge disadvantage with the old system.

Bloc STAR mitigates those issues, making slates less powerful, and making it less important to vote for the exact number of candidates running. Of course getting good endorsement will always be helpful, and of course voters will ideally score at least as many candidates as there are seats, but if there are 10 seats you do not need to give 5 stars to all 10 candidates, unless there are 10 you truly love. You should show your honest preference order.

Q: Is Bloc STAR vulnerable to strategic voting? 
A: With any new system people experiment with how to game it. With Bloc STAR the key to good strategy is the same as in single-winner. Give your favorites 5, your worst candidates 0, and show your preference order and level of support for the rest. In short, honesty is the best policy.

Even if voters are strategic in Bloc STAR the results will be much more representative, and those who vote strategically will have less of an edge. No voting method can eliminate all possibilities for strategic voting, but in STAR Voting strategic voting is not incentivized or effective. 


Attempting strategic voting in STAR can backfire, and most voters will get the best results if they are honest. For example, a voter who only loves 9 candidates but who strategically decides to give 5 stars to 21 candidates because there are 21 winners for SCC is giving up their power to have a say in which of those 21 will win, or in what order. If you honestly just want any of the 21 to win that is an honest good vote. If you want your favorites to win the top spots then you should only give top scores to your favorites. A good vote in this situation would be to give a top score to your 9 favorites, and then give other candidates you hope will win 4 stars, or the number of stars you think they deserve showing your honest preference order.

Q: Do people who give less high scores have less power?
A: No. Your scores will help your favorites pull ahead of the rest. If your have lots of favorites give lots of high scores, if you only have one favorite then only give your top score to them. It’s up to you to decide what your honest vote looks like. Showing your preference order and level of support for the candidates helps ensure that your scores help the best candidates advance to the runoff and hopefully win each seat.

A key point here is that in the runoff, each ballot is one vote. Whether voters give lots of 5s or just a few your final vote will go to the finalist you prefer. The runoff is binary, and it actually will correct for any strategic voting or distortion from normal variations in voting behavior, to the extent possible.

Q: Do we propose voting like this, with multi-winner Bloc STAR and lots of winners, for governmental elections?
A: No. The SCC elected 21 delegates off one ballot. That’s not a situation we ever see in Oregon governmental elections. Having this many winners in a single governmental election would compromise geographic representation, so it’s not recommended. 

Multi-winner bloc voting may be a good option for a few limited situations where a small multi-member district makes sense, but in general At-Large elections are not recommended for a number of reasons that are beyond the scope of this FAQ. 

This system makes good sense for delegate elections and is a big step up from what we had before. In the future Proportional representation could be another good option worth considering. 


Q: Would Bloc STAR be good for a primary?
A: Yes. Bloc STAR would be the best choice for a top 5 primary as it would eliminate vote splitting and accurately advance the top 5 most viable candidates.

With STAR voting primaries could be eliminated entirely, or they could advance the top 10 or top 5. We like 5 when a primary is needed, but in most cases it’s better to just skip the primary, which is more inclusive, cheapest, and has real advantages for reducing the influence of money in politics.

No More Costly Walkouts

Ally Update from Jacob Menefee

The No More Costly Walkouts (NMCW) coalition includes groups like: The Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Basic Rights Oregon, SEIU, Planned Parenthood Action PAC, and many others. I am reaching out to members of the Multnomah County Democratic Party with updates on our efforts to restore democracy and enact progressive change in Oregon.

You have likely heard that recently the Oregon Senate Republicans walked out for one day. They continued to show up to Committees and arrived for floor sessions in later weeks. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the Senate is currently holding in-person floor sessions only once a week on Thursdays, so Senate Republicans can delay Legislative activity for an entire week while only refusing to appear once for one afternoon.

More recently this past Thursday a rule in the State Senate was up for a vote which would have made the Senate’s rules on fines for walkouts match the State House’s rules (Page 3, 3.03 Section (4)). The Senate Republicans hadn’t arrived one full hour after the floor session was set to begin, and the rule change was withdrawn from consideration. Competing press releases were then sent.

The press have harshly questioned these actions, with The Oregonian (article behind paywall) saying that this “…has become an increasingly common tactic by the party that holds a minority of seats in both chambers of the Legislature” and that “…their walkout so early in the session and without substantive matters up for floor votes raises questions about how much the Legislature will be able to achieve in its COVID- and wildfire-relief focused session.”

A number of bills have been filed which would address these ongoing walkouts in different ways. These bills are scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Rules Committee at 1pm on Thursday March 18th.

This hearing will not be a very long one, so we do not recommend trying to testify on the 18th, but it is critically important that the Committee receive written testimony in favor of these bills. We will follow up with details in the coming days about how folks can do so.

Please feel free to spread the word and send this email to anyone in your activist networks who would be interested! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call, email or text anytime.

Jacob Menefee (He/Him/His)