RCV is Specifically Allowed by Oregon Constitution

Maine might have to amend Constitution to complete RCV adoption

Happily for Oregon, the Oregon Constitution presents no barriers at all to the adoption of Ranked Choice Voting methods. In fact, the Oregon Constitution expressly permits Ranked Choice Voting. Although our Constitution, like Maine’s, refers to elections by plurality, it specifically allowed use of preference voting to find that plurality:

Election by plurality; proportional representation.

In all elections authorized by this constitution until otherwise provided by law, the person or persons receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected, but provision may be made by law for elections by equal proportional representation of all the voters for every office which is filled by the election of two or more persons whose official duties, rights and powers are equal and concurrent. Every qualified elector resident in his precinct and registered as may be required by law, may vote for one person under the title for each office. Provision may be made by law for the voter’s direct or indirect expression of his first, second or additional choices among the candidates for any office. For an office which is filled by the election of one person it may be required by law that the person elected shall be the final choice of a majority of the electors voting for candidates for that office. These principles may be applied by law to nominations by political parties and organizations.

In Maine, the provisions calling for plurality elections were not modified by the highlighted phrase above describing ranked-choice voting.

“We understand that there is an open question of whether Ranked Choice Voting would be constitutional in Maine,” said Jill Ward, President of the League of Women Voters of Maine.

“There is no consensus answer to that question. In 2011, after three years of careful study, the League of Women Voters of Maine endorsed Ranked Choice Voting because it puts more power in the hands of voters, ensures those elected to office have the broadest support, promotes civility in campaigns, and may serve to reduce voter cynicism and increase voter participation. These are values we support and believe would improve our election system.

If the people of Maine want Ranked Choice Voting for the many civic benefits that it would confer — and the League of Women Voters is in this camp — the surest means to that end would be to pass Ranked Choice Voting at the polls in 2016. Should there be a review by the courts that results in an adverse court opinion, we would support a constitutional amendment to allow Ranked Choice Voting to be implemented in time for the 2018 election.”