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Question 2: The Pros and Cons of Ranked-Choice Voting

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020   

BOSTON -- At this election, Massachusetts will consider ranked-choice voting starting in 2022.

If it's approved, Question 2 would mean that voters rank the candidates in order of preference. If no one gets a majority of first-choice votes, the lowest-ranked candidate is eliminated and their voters' second choices would be redistributed until a candidate in the race gets the support of 50% plus one.

Kristina Mensik, assistant director of Common Cause Massachusetts, said this system would reduce the "spoiler effect" so people can vote for a third party without handing the election to the candidate they dislike.

"It reduces the kind of trade-off considerations that voters make," she said. "Rather than supporting their true favorite candidate, they feel they have to support a candidate who has a better chance."

Opponents have said ranked-choice voting is too complicated, and noted that it eliminates runoff elections, which denies voters a second chance to evaluate the top contenders. Mensik said the new system would ensure the winner has the broadest support, rather than the votes of the most fervent minority. She said ranked-choice voting favors more moderate -- or less extreme -- candidates and also discourages negative campaigning.

"You have candidates who are competing not just for a first-place position," she said, "but also working to be somebody's second- or third-choice candidate."

Ranked-choice voting is used now in municipal elections in Cambridge and in dozens of other cities across the country. This year, Maine is the first state to use it in a presidential election.

More information about Question 2 is online at voterchoice2020.org/ballot-text/.


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