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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
June 6, 2023

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3 of 6 Clark County charter amendments leading

Ranked choice voting among questions failing

By , Columbian staff writer

Clark County’s voters appeared to take their chance to change the county’s governing constitution Tuesday, with three of the six charter amendments on the ballot leading on election night. Ranked choice voting was not among those passing.

The six amendments were placed on the ballot by the Clark County Charter Review Commission before it disbanded at the end of last year. Here’s how they were faring as of Tuesday night’s returns:

  • Amendment 10: The ranked choice voting charter amendment was failing with 57.87 percent of voters opposing it.

“I understand that ranked choice voting is a hard concept for people,” said Doug Lasher, the treasurer for the Charter Yes campaign and former charter review commission member. “I don’t think it will be coming back soon.”

Currently, the treasurer, auditor, clerk, assessor, sheriff, prosecuting attorney and five county council seats are elected in a traditional system in which the candidate gaining the largest total vote in the general election wins.

The amendment would have instead created a system in which voters ranked candidates by preference — first, second, third, etc. If there’s no majority supporting a single candidate, the candidate who received the smallest number of votes would be eliminated and those who voted for that candidate would have their votes go toward their second preferences, until one candidate achieves a majority.

  • Amendment 11: With 65.65 percent of voters’ support so far, voters appeared to be favoring changing the hiring process for the county manager.

The measure would require the Clark County Council to consult with the county’s executive elected officials in a public meeting before hiring a manager.

  • Amendment 12: A measure that would add a preamble to the county charter was leading by 1,815 votes Tuesday night. Of the ballots counted so far, 50.85 percent of voters approved the measure, while 49.15 percent opposed it.

The preamble would mention that modern Clark County is situated on land once occupied by Indigenous people. It then says, “We acknowledge and honor their rich heritage, culture, and contributions, past and present. We value a vibrant, inclusive and diverse community that fosters peace, mutual tolerance, and respect for each other’s dignity, privacy, freedoms, and responsibilities.”

  • Amendment 13: Voters appeared to be favoring 2-1 a measure that would change how the county’s executive elected offices are filled when there’s a vacancy.

The measure would require executive elected officials to provide a certified list of senior office employees to succeed them if their positions became vacant. Successors would serve only until the next general election. It would also make clear how vacant county council positions are filled.

The county charter currently doesn’t define how a nonpartisan elected office is filled temporarily if it becomes vacant. State law defines a process for the county council chair to nominate individuals, who are then presented to the council for approval.

The issue would prevent political wheeling and dealing from going on and keeping the process of naming a successor out in the open, said Lasher, who was pleased at Tuesday’s initial results on the measure.

  • Amendment 14: Voters appeared to be rejecting lowering the number of signatures required when submitting a mini-initiative and initiative or referenda petition. Currently, petitioners must gather signatures equivalent to 10 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. The proposal would reduce that to 8 percent. On election night, 41.32 percent of votes cast so far were in support of the measure and 58.68 percent were against it.

The greater threshold makes it difficult to get initiatives on the ballot since the threshold changes based on how the population changes, said Lasher, expressing disappointment at Tuesday’s outcome.

  • Amendment 15: An amendment creating a diversity and inclusion officer position and an advisory commission was trailing Tuesday.

The measure is a revision from one of the amendments that failed to pass last year. Last year’s amendment would have created a diversity and inclusion office.

While 38.62 percent of voters were supporting the measure as of election night, 61.38 percent were not.

The measure was a long shot, said Lasher.

This is the second time in two years voters considered changes to the county charter. Last year voters approved eight of the nine proposed charter amendments. The county’s next Charter Review Commission will be elected in November 2025.