By | October 22, 2020
While there’s little question that Trump versus Biden is the major draw in this year’s general election, Massachusetts residents will also decide two important ballot measures on Nov. 3. One could change the process in which some state and federal officials are elected, while the other would determine how people repair their vehicles. We support both of these questions.
Question 2, referred to as ranked-choice voting, is an idea whose time has arrived. Wouldn’t it be great if we elected people to important offices that more than 50% of us support? That’s called a majority, and there are too many times when it doesn’t happen.
Also known as instant-runoff voting, this system allows voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. If one candidate fails to receive a majority of votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Ballots ranking that candidate highest are then redistributed to the voter’s second choice. That process is repeated until one candidate has a majority.
If approved, ranked-choice voting would take place for primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal congressional and senate seats, and certain county offices beginning in 2022.
Not only is it wise to have officials working for us who won the support of a majority of their constituents, but such a system will likely spur more people to run for office, and, we hope, lead to elected officials who better reflect the diversity of constituents they serve. This benefit banks on the idea that candidates can run for office without fear of being a “spoiler” by splitting the votes among two candidates with similar viewpoints. Voters, meanwhile, won’t have to “strategize” about who to vote for to avoid the possible election of a candidate they don’t like. Instead, they can pick two candidates with similar viewpoints.
Ranked-choice voting is not complicated, as some opponents have characterized it. It is a different, and we believe, a more fair way to best represent the desires of an electorate.
The idea is not new. Voters in 2002 and 2004, in the 3rd Hampshire and 1st Franklin state representative districts, supported ranked-choice voting. The system is used in many other countries, by the state of Maine for its state elections, and by 20 cities nationwide to use such a system. Locally, Amherst and Easthampton have adopted ranked-choice voting, though nether community has started using it.
With ranked-choice voting, democracy wins.