Frequently Asked Questions

The Election Office will release ONLY the first choice ranking results for County Commissioner after 8:00 pm on election night. These unofficial first choice ranking results will be updated along with the other contest results including the final Unofficial Election Night results posting. We cannot announce a tentative winner before all ballots are received and tallied.  This would include Benton County ballots returned in other Oregon counties and ballots that are resolved within the 14-day ballot challenge/resolution period. Following the challenge period, the county must certify the election results no later than the 20th day after the election date. 

If the race is not close, we may have a good idea who likely won on election night. This is not a big difference compared to previous elections. How many times have we gone to bed on election night thinking a particular candidate or ballot measure was winning in a close race, only to find after all ballots are counted that the outcome had changed?  Ranked Choice Voting results are no different. If the race is close, final determination will depend on the counting of ballots returned in another Oregon county, as well as, challenged and provisional ballots all being included in the final contest results.

After the 14-day challenge period has past and all accepted ballots are tallied, if a candidate listed on the ballot or Write-In candidate receives more than half of the first-choice votes cast (50% + plus one), that candidate will be announced as the unofficial winner.

If no candidate receives more than 50% of the votes, vote tallies will continue. The candidate with the fewest first choice votes is defeated. Next, the votes cast for the defeated candidate, are then recast, for the next choice remaining candidate selected on those ballots; or until the vote is nullified, if no subsequent choice is for a remaining candidate.

This process continues until a candidate has received more than half of the votes cast or only two candidates remain. If two candidates remain, the candidate with the most votes is declared the unofficial winner.  The official winner will only be declared when the results are certified.

Round-by-Round Vote Totals

A report containing round-by-round contest results for the County Commission positions will be displayed on www.co.benton.or.us/elections and BentonBetterBallot.com after the challenge period has past and the returns are certified.

When will the final CERTIFIED election results be available?

Benton County can only certify election results after the 14-day ballot challenge/resolution period has past and no later than the 20th day following the election.

To win a ranked choice election, a candidate must receive 50%, plus one vote of total votes cast for that office.

After all the votes are in on Election Day, counters will tally first choice votes. If no candidate wins by receiving 50%+1 majority of the total first choice votes cast, the candidate with the lowest number of first choice votes is eliminated, and the second choice candidate votes on those ballots are tallied accordingly. Votes are recalculated, and if one candidate achieves a 50%+1 majority, they are declared the winner. If not, we repeat the process. The candidate in last-place is eliminated and the next choice candidate votes on those ballots are tallied. If the next choice on those ballots has already been eliminated, the subsequent choice is counted, and so on until the ballot is exhausted or a winner has been determined. Votes are recalculated, and the process is repeated until one candidate reaches a 50%+1 majority and is declared the winner.

Your vote will count only once for that candidate and will not help your candidate’s chances of winning. If voting goes to later rounds because your 1st Choice candidate has been eliminated, your ballot will be nullified and counted as an “Exhausted Vote”. This is because your subsequent choice(s) would not be attributable to a remaining candidate.

We encourage voters to rank the full range of candidates. If you choose not to, your ranked vote may not be counted in later rounds if your top candidate(s) are eliminated and the lower choice position(s) are left blank. These are called “Exhausted Votes”.

Ranked Choice Voting is easy! Instead of choosing just one candidate, use your ballot to rank your top three candidates, from your first choice to your second and third choices. Find the name of your first choice candidate and completely fill in the oval next to their name in the “1st Choice” column. Then find the name of your second choice, and fill in the oval next to their name in the “2nd Choice” column. Finally, find the name of your third choice, and fill in the oval next to their name in the “3rd Choice” column.

Please Note: You can use the Write-In space to enter a candidate’s name that is NOT on the ballot that you would like to select for your 1st, 2nd or 3rd Choice in the RCV contest.

No. RCV will be used only for county elected officials submitted to voters in general elections; not for party primaries. Currently, the only countywide elected offices are the County Commissioners and the County Sheriff.

Please Note: The Sheriff’s office is a non-partisan office that nominates no more than two candidates for the General Election Ballot. Therefore, the Sheriff position will NOT be elected using RCV.

In November 2016, a majority of Benton County voters chose to amend the County Charter to elect county officials using RCV. The November 2020 General Election, may be the first election in which voters cast their vote in a contest using RCV. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is only used when a minimum of three candidates are nominated for the countywide office in the General Election.