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Ranked-Choice Voting on Massachusetts Ballot

The second question on the Massachusetts ballot concerns ranked-choice voting. Governor Charlie Baker said in a joint press release with Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito on Oct. 27 that he will be voting against ranked-choice voting. 

Ranked-choice voting involves voters ranking candidates based on their preferences, such as in first, second, and third. This would be implemented in races with more than two candidates. Votes would then be counted in a series of rounds. If a candidate receives the majority of first-preference votes, they win the election.  

If no candidate received more than 50 percent of the first-preference votes, then the candidate or candidates that received the fewest first-preference votes would be eliminated. In the next round, votes for eliminated candidates would be counted toward the next-highest ranking candidate on the voter’s ballot. 

“At a time when we need to be promoting turnout and making it easier for voters to cast their ballots, we worry that question 2 will add an additional layer of complication for both voters and election officials, while potentially delaying results and increasing the cost of elections,” their statement said.

Voting yes means that the voter is in support of ranked-choice voting for primary and general elections for statewide offices, state legislative offices, federal congressional offices, and certain other offices beginning in 2022. 

“The counting process alone could get unbelievably difficult,” Baker said during a press conference on Tuesday. “I don’t want to overly complicate that process that people start to wonder what is actually going on here. So I will vote no on that.” 

Ranked-choice voting differs from Massachusetts’ current plurality system, in which the winning candidate only needs the most votes. Maine is the only state that has implemented ranked-choice voting at the state level. Alaska will also be voting on ranked-choice voting on Election Day. 

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Representative Ayanna Pressley have endorsed ranked-choice voting.

The League of Women’s Voters of Newton and the League of Women’s Voters of Massachusetts have also urged voters to vote yes on ranked-choice voting. The Newton President of the League of Women Voters Patricia Johnson discussed ranked-choice voting during the monthly program The League Presents on NewTV

“Getting our officials elected by a majority of the voters is seen as really important to the league and is one of the pluses of ranked-choice voting,” President of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts Susan Millinger said during the program. 

Millinger said that opponents of ranked-choice voting argue that the ballot will look different and it will deter people from voting and delay election results.

“That will be important for organizations like the League of Women’s Voters to educate the voters in the actual process of voting,” Johnson said.

Featured Image by Johnathan Ye / Heights Senior Staff

November 2, 2020

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