By | October 11, 2020
It’s the linchpin of any functioning democracy: Citizens choose their leaders. But too often in this country, the will of constituents is thwarted, and we elect officials who don’t have the support of a majority of voters.
Massachusetts voters can strike an important blow for majority rule by voting yes on Question 2 in November and moving to ranked-choice voting for a number of state and federal elections.
Rather than selecting one candidate per race, ranked-choice voting allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, then instant runoffs take place, where the votes of the last-place candidates are reallocated based on the second choice listed on those ballots. That process is repeated until a candidate earns a majority of the vote and is declared the winner.
The process would encourage a broader field of qualified candidates — including independent and third-party candidates — to run for office without fear of a “spoiler” effect. And it would mean voters could cast ballots for candidates they truly favor rather than voting for a candidate they don’t much like in order to thwart an undesired outcome. (Think about all the Democrats who since the 2000 election have been reluctant to vote third party so as not to replicate “the Nader effect.”)
Ranked-choice voting could also change the nature of campaigning for the better. Because candidates would be hunting for second- and third-choice votes, they would seek broad support from the electorate rather than target only specific demographics that might offer the strongest support. And they would have less incentive to engage in negative campaigning: Attack a rival and you may turn off their supporters and lose second- or third-choice votes.
But most importantly, the winning candidate in ranked-choice voting systems reflects the choice of the majority.
We know it works. Ranked choice voting…