City prepares for voter education after council approved changes to the election code

Alt text: Illustration of a model ballot for ranked-choice voting.  Text says: “We’re getting ready for Ranked-Choice Voting!”  Includes Portland Transition logo with City Seal.  
On April 19, city council voted to implement several new election rules when Portlanders cast their ballot for the November 2024 election. The vote was required to formalize ranked-choice voting and other city election code updates.  

City officials, the Multnomah County Elections Director, and a representative from the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center (a national expert on ranked-choice voting), joined Portlanders for public testimony on April 12 that led to the adoption of the new Code Chapter 2.08 - Election of Candidates.  

The historic vote makes Portland the third Oregon jurisdiction to use ranked-choice voting, following Benton County, which adopted ranked-choice voting in 2016 and implemented it for the 2020 election and Corvallis, which adopted and used ranked-choice voting in the 2022 election. Nearby cities, including San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland currently use ranked-choice voting.   

It also marks the start of a robust voter education campaign to ensure that voters understand the new election methods and how to fill out their ballot.  

Between now and November 2024, Portlanders will learn about the most significant rule changes to the election system: 

  • Implementation of ranked-choice voting to elect the mayor, the auditor and 12 city councilor positions, with three per each new geographic district.   

  • Elimination of the primary election for candidates.   

  • Elimination of special elections to fill council vacancies.  

City of Portland’s Interim Elections Officer, Becky Lamboley, stated, "We are eager to deliver on the changes approved by voters to our election system and grateful for a strong partnership between local and national experts to implement them in advance of the November 2024 election.”  

Portland’s first election using ranked-choice voting  

This is what the voting experience will look like for Portland voters:   

  • Voters will receive a ballot in the mail — like usual.   

  • The ballot will have a new grid design to allow for the ranking process. 

  • Voters will prioritize (or rank) their top six candidates for each contest on the ballot. Voters may rank fewer candidates if they prefer. 

  • Voters will return their ballots in the mail or at Official Ballot Drop Sites — like usual.   

Consult our website FAQ for additional election details. 
The three counties where Portlanders live – Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties – are coordinating the administration of elections using ranked-choice voting for City of Portland contests.  

The City will create voter education materials and education efforts overall to ensure that voters can successfully use their ballots.  Additionally, the City will invest in candidate education and create new user guides and training to support candidates running for office. 

Proposals for voter education campaign under review 

The City set a May 3 deadline to receive proposals from qualified individuals, teams, organizations, or firms to create and coordinate a citywide voter education, partnership, and outreach plan. The target audience is on hard-to-reach voters and voters from neighborhoods where voter turnout is lower than average.  

The voter education plan will work to implement and align community efforts to educate Portlanders about ranked-choice voting and district-based elections ahead of the November general 2024 election. The plan also includes managing sub-grants to community partners who will administer voter education and outreach. The total RFP value is approximately $675,000.   

Multnomah County’s role to update the election system for ranked-choice voting  

In Oregon, counties are tasked with preparing ballots and conducting elections. The Multnomah County Elections Division will manage three elements of the election system that are changing, including: the voting system software, the ballot design, and the reporting of election results. The County publishes unofficial election results and updates beginning on Election Night.  

Ranked-choice voting will also require tabulation of vote data from all three counties where City of Portland voters reside: Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington. Multnomah County is not only coordinating with the City of Portland, but also with Washington and Clackamas Counties, and the Secretary of State’s Office regarding results reporting, as well as ballot design.  

The Multnomah County Elections Division is working with its vendor, Clear Ballot, to update the software to meet the City’s ranked-choice voting specifications as well as certification standards that meet federal and state standards prior to the November 2024 election.    

Charter Transition Resources