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Oregon Voters To Decide Measures Related To Ranked-choice Voting, Impeachment

Oregon's voters in 2024 to decide measures related to ranked-choice voting, impeachment 

Oregon’s voters in 2024 to decide measures related to ranked-choice voting, impeachment 

A number of interesting ballot measures in Oregon were recently certified since we last covered the state of ballot measures in the Brew. Those measures relate to ranked-choice voting (RCV), state executive impeachment, and public officials’ salaries.  

Demonstrators hold signs in favor of the Greater Idaho Movement in Enterprise, Oregon, on May 12, 2023. Oregon has not elected a Republican governor in 40 years. Yet it is very divided: in the last midterm elections in November, only six out of 36 counties voted Democratic, but they are the most populous, and they consistently win. In the very rural east of the state, many voters are tired of being dispossessed by the urban elite close to the Pacific coast. To ward off fate, an unusual idea emerged: what if we moved the border, to create a “Greater Idaho” encompassing half of Oregon? Of the 15 counties in the eastern part, 11 have already voted to force their local officials to regularly discuss the modalities of a hypothetical secession. On May 16, the Wallowa court is due to vote on a similar measure. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) 

On June 25, the Oregon House and Senate passed House Bill 2004 (HB 2004), making Oregon the fifth state to put a measure about RCV before voters. The measure will appear on the Nov. 5, 2024, ballot. 

RCV is an electoral system in which voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If a candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, they are declared the winner. If no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. The process is repeated until a candidate wins an outright majority.

If Oregon voters approve the ballot measure, RCV would be implemented for federal and statewide offices, including the president, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor, Secretary of State, attorney general, state treasurer, and commissioner of labor and industries. The ballot measure would not change state legislative elections. If approved, RCV would be used in partisan primaries and general elections in 2028.

Voters in Maine (2016), Alaska (2020), Massachusetts (2020), and Nevada (2022) have decided on RCV ballot measures. In Maine, Alaska, and Nevada, voters approved the ballot measures. In Nevada, citizen-initiated constitutional amendments require voter approval at two general elections, meaning voters will decide on the measure for a second time in 2024. Voters in Massachusetts rejected the ballot measure. 

Alaska and Maine use RCV in federal and/or state-level elections. Hawaii uses RCV in certain elections. Another fifteen states have jurisdictions that use RCV at the local level. Jurisdictions in Washington and Illinois have adopted but not yet implemented RCV in local elections. Five states have banned the use of RCV in statewide or local elections.

Unlike the four ballot measures in Maine, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Nevada, which were put on the ballot through citizen-initiated signature drives, the legislature voted to place the measure on the ballot in Oregon. 

In 2022, voters in Portland, Oregon, and Multnomah County, Oregon, approved charter amendments to adopt ranked-choice voting. Voters in Benton County, Oregon, adopted RCV in 2016.

Read more about this measure here. You can also read our recent State of Election Administration Legislation report; which covers, among other things, bills related to RCV that were introduced in the first half of the year. 

State executive impeachment

On June 25, the Oregon legislature certified for the 2024 ballot a measure that would empower the legislature to impeach and remove elected state executives—including the governor. Oregon is the only state where the legislature cannot impeach the governor. 

The amendment would require a two-thirds vote in the House to impeach an elected state executive, and a two-thirds vote in the Senate to convict and remove the official from office. The House could initiate an impeachment for “malfeasance or corrupt conduct in office, willful neglect of statutory or constitutional duty or other felony or high crime.”

There have been 16 impeachments carried out against governors since 1862. The most recent impeachment was of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) who was impeached, convicted, and removed from office in 2009. 

In 2016, the Oregon State Legislature considered a constitutional amendment to impeach the governor after Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigned following allegations of conflicts of interest and ethics complaints. That amendment passed the House but did not receive a vote in the Senate. Then-Senate President Peter Courtney (D-11) said an impeachment amendment wasn’t needed as voters could initiate recalls against elected executives. “Oregon voters have the ultimate right of impeachment through the recall process and they aren’t shy about using it,” said Sen. Courtney.

From 1985 to 2022, the Oregon legislature referred 114 binding measures to the ballot. Voters approved 75, or 65.8%, and rejected 39, or 34.2%. During an even-numbered year, like 2024, the legislature referred an average of four to five measures to the ballot during the 1985-2022 period. The legislature can refer more measures to next year’s general election ballot during the 2024 legislative session. Campaigns for citizen-initiated ballot measures have until July 5, 2024, to file signatures.

Produced in association with Ballotpedia

Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Alberto Arellano

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