Oregon voters to decide measures related to ranked-choice voting, impeachment

Welcome to the Thursday, July 6, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Oregon voters in 2024 to decide measures related to ranked-choice voting, impeachment
  2. Texas school board races still more competitive during odd-year elections but percentage of incumbents who lost re-election may buck trend 
  3. Catch up on the latest 2024 presidential news with On the Ballot

Oregon 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.  

Let’s take a closer look at those first two items.

Ranked-choice voting

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 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.

Click below to read more about 2024 Oregon ballot measures. 

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Texas school board races still more competitive during odd-year elections but percentage of incumbents who lost re-election may buck trend 

While California enrolls the largest population of public school students in the country, Texas has the most school districts and elected board members. There are 1,022 school districts in the Lonestar State and 6,994 elected board members. 

This year, we’ll cover elections for 172 Texas school board seats. One-hundred and fifty of those elections were on the ballot on May 6, allowing us to do some initial analysis related to the state’s school board election trends. The remaining districts will hold elections in November. Here’s what we found related to candidates filing per seat and incumbent success rates. 

  • If the volume of candidates filing for seats in November matches the May numbers, Texas will continue to see a higher number of candidates per seat in odd-numbered years than in even-numbered years.
    • Texas school board elections tend to see more candidates file per seat in odd-numbered years than in even-numbered years. Between 2018 and 2023, odd-numbered election years have averaged 2.08 candidates per seat, while even-numbered election years have averaged 1.78 candidates per seat. The most recent May elections saw an average of 2.04 candidates per seat. The highest average number of candidates per seat in Texas school board elections occurred in 2021 when 2.20 candidates filed per seat. The lowest average number of candidates per seat was in 2020 with 1.68 candidates per seat.
  • If the November elections mirror the May elections, 2023 will have the second-highest percentage of school board incumbents lose re-election between 2018 and 2023, breaking the trend of incumbents losing re-election in higher rates in even-numbered years.
    • School board incumbents in Texas between 2018 and 2023 were more likely to lose re-election in even-numbered years than in odd-numbered years. During even-numbered years, 19.76% of incumbents who ran for re-election were defeated compared to the 14.44% of incumbents in odd-numbered years. During the May 2023 election, 22.02% of incumbents lost re-election. The highest average percentage of school board incumbents who lost re-election was in 2022 with 25.28%. The lowest average percentage of incumbents who lost re-election was in 2019 with 9.63%. 

Our school board coverage scope includes all school districts in the 100 largest cities by population, the 200 largest school districts by student enrollment, and, in 2023, all districts in Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

We’ll have coverage of Texas’ November school board elections later this year in Hall Pass, our weekly newsletter devoted to school board politics, elections, and policy. Click the link below to subscribe today. 

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Catch up on the latest 2024 presidential news with On the Ballot

If you can believe it, we’re around 16 months from the 2024 presidential election—and the pace of the news is beginning to reflect that. With so much to keep track of us, from new candidates to fundraising numbers to primary election dates, we thought we’d bring our resident presidential election expert onto On the Ballot, our weekly podcast, to help us make sense of the latest developments. 

In this week’s edition, Ellen Morrissey looks at the current field of Republican and Democratic candidates, where former President Donald Trump (R) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) stand in the polls, the latest updates on the Democratic primary calendar, and what the most recent quarterly campaign finance reports tell us about the race—and a lot more. 

Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of June 6, you’ve still got time to subscribe on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode comes out!

Don’t miss out on the latest content! Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.    

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