About Ranked Choice Voting

Read our quick explainer below.

Why should we vote YES On 2 for Ranked Choice Voting in Massachusetts?

The Problem

Our political system today is tearing us apart and preventing us from working together to find solutions to major challenges. The system lets big money and corrupt special interests have too much control over our democracy. It allows politicians to win with less than a majority of support and shuts out independent voices. And it is a system that limits our choice by forcing voters to choose between the “lesser of two evils.”

What is Ranked Choice Voting?

Ranked Choice Voting is a simple, fair, easy, and straightforward way to help fix these problems by giving you more voice.

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With Ranked Choice Voting, you can choose one candidate, like you always have, or rank the candidates for office in the order you prefer them, as many or as few as you like. If your favorite candidate can’t win, your vote counts instantly for your second choice, so candidates must compete for every vote.

This simple change will ensure that the winner has the support of the broadest majority of voters. It gives voters more choice by letting them pick the candidate with the best ideas, not the biggest bank account. And it opens up the process to diverse voices by giving all candidates a chance to compete and win.

Ranked Choice Voting will empower voters at this critical time in our democracy.

Who supports Ranked Choice Voting in Massachusetts?

Ranked Choice Voting is backed by hundreds of thousands of voters and over 6,000 grassroots volunteers across the political spectrum. Yes On 2 is proudly endorsed by the majority of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation, former Governors Deval Patrick and Bill Weld (see WBUR Cognoscenti article), former Lt. Gov. Kerry Murphy Healey, Attorney General Maura Healey; and non-partisan groups including the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, MassVOTE, Mass. Teachers Association, plus over 50 more.

The Boston GlobeBerkshire EagleThe Sun ChronicleMV TimesDaily Hampshire Gazette, and Greenfield Recorder have all endorsed a “yes” vote on Question 2; as has former Chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party Jennifer Nassour.

The push for fairer elections with Ranked Choice Voting continues to gain traction nationwide, with public figures including Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Douglas and Jenny Slate (native of Milton, MA) coming out in vocal support. To view the long list of elected leaders, unions, environmental groups, Massachusetts party committees, voter empowerment organizations and others who endorse Yes On 2, visit our Supporters page.

Top Headlines this Week

Yes on 2 Campaign Concedes in Ranked Choice Voting Ballot Initiative Vote

After polls closed Tuesday, the ballot question to implement a ranked choice voting system was not able to gain enough votes to change the status quo For Immediate Release: —...

Congressman Joe Kennedy III Stumps for Yes on 2 Campaign in Grove Hall

Congressman Joe Kennedy III Stumps for Yes on 2 Campaign in Grove Hall. "We need to make sure that the people, the candidates, are the people that we want to...

Massachusetts ballot questions: The Boston Globe Endorses Yes Vote on Question 2

Globe says ranked choice ensures majority outcomes, broadens the field of candidates, eliminates the “spoiler effect” and would improve tone of political campaign. Massachusetts ballot questions: The Boston Globe endorses...

Key Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting in Massachusetts

+ Ensures Majority Support

by eliminating the “spoiler effect” to elect a candidate who appeals to a broad base of voters. In our current “plurality” system, candidates can win election despite being the last choice of most voters. Ranked Choice Voting guarantees the election of majority winners, whose support extends beyond a narrow base, by requiring the winner to have more than 50% of the vote. This is done in a series of “instant runoffs” until one candidate reaches a majority. For more detail, see How Does RCV Work?

+ Expands Voter Choice

by allowing you to vote for who you really want, without settling for the “lesser of two evils.” In our current system, if your favorite candidate is unlikely to win, you have two bad choices: (1) cast a “safe” vote for one of the front-runners, to avoid electing the one you like least, or (2) cast a principled but risky vote for your favorite candidate. You shouldn’t be forced to take sides in this lose-lose dilemma. Ranked Choice Voting lets you vote for candidates you truly support, not just against the ones you oppose.

+ Promotes Diverse Candidates

by encouraging more candidates to run for office without fear of vote-splitting. In our current system, many candidates are pressured to drop out, shamed as “spoilers,” and excluded from public debates. Ranked Choice Voting welcomes all candidates into the race — and you can’t win if you don’t run. For example, a study of cities with Ranked Choice Voting (summary, full report) found Dunk the Vote endorses Yes on Question 2women and people of color are running and winning office more often than they are in cities without RCV.

“Having more vehicles to enact and get more representation in places like the State House has a real-world effect on who is there… fighting for the kind of reforms that we’re calling for, that we know are needed to make our communities feel respected, whole, and safe. Ranked Choice Voting is not just a theoretical political exercise for me; this is something that has real, practical impacts on my life as a Black man… I think it’s very, very important that we do each and every thing that we can to enfranchise and to increase the diversity among our elected officials.” — David Halbert, MA DSC

+ Curbs Negative Campaigning

by rewarding candidates who reach beyond their base to find common ground with more voters. Voters are tired of toxic campaign rhetoric and mud-slinging. With Ranked Choice Voting, candidates do best when they reach out positively to as many voters as possible, including those supporting their opponents. While candidates must still differentiate themselves to earn 1st-choice support, a campaign that emphasizes negative attacks over positive ideas may lose crucial 2nd and 3rd choice support. Comprehensive polling that compared cities with RCV to those without found that voters in RCV cities experienced campaign messages that were more positive and constructive.

+ Strengthens Party Unity

by tempering intra-party tensions during contested primaries and choosing nominees with a mandate from party voters. By allowing voters to rank primary candidates in order of preference, Ranked Choice Voting helps consolidate rather than divide competing party factions. The incentive to positively campaign under RCV means fewer rifts between party members after a hotly contested primary, and the requirement that winners demonstrate a majority of support under RCV will give nominees the mandate they need to rally party members behind them. RCV helps every party put their best foot forward heading into the general election.

How does Ranked Choice Voting work?

Ranked Choice Voting allows voters the option to rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference: first, second, third, and so on. You can vote for just one candidate like you always have, or you can rank additional choices — as many or few as you decide to rank.

Sample Ranked Choice Voting ballot showing how Ranked Choice Voting works

If your favorite candidate doesn’t win, your vote is instantly counted for your second choice, so candidates must compete for every vote. If one candidate receives a majority (more than 50%) of the first-choice votes, that candidate is elected, just like right now. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is dropped, and those ballots count instantly towards the next choice on each of their voters’ ballots (while all other voters still retain their first-choice). This process repeats in rounds (i.e. a runoff) until one candidate has earned over 50% (a majority) and wins. For more detail, see “How Does RCV Work?” and watch some short Video Explainers like the one below to see RCV in action!

Where is Ranked Choice Voting used?

After many cities around the US had begun using RCV for their local elections, Maine became the first state in the nation to use RCV for state and federal contests in 2018. New York City followed by enacting RCV in 2019, and two Massachusetts cities will begin using it next year. Ranked Choice Voting is used in some form in 26 states. See the “Where RCV is Used” page for more.

Got a more detailed question about Ranked Choice Voting?

Check out our Fact Sheet if you’ve heard information you’re unsure about, or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page! Or, call in your question to our voter hotline at (617) 906-8166.

Here’s how you can help.









More Voice, More Choice.

Vote Yes on Question 2 on or by November 3, 2020 to enact Ranked Choice Voting by 2022, giving Massachusetts voters a stronger voice when we cast our ballots, and guaranteeing that our elected leaders are supported by a true majority.
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