Letter: Give ranked choice voting a chance, Massachusetts

By ANDREW BLOOM  |  August 6, 2020

To the editor:

Following the largest and most successful referendum signature campaign in the history of the commonwealth, ranked choice voting will be on the ballot this November (Question 2). Massachusetts voters will decide whether ranked choice voting will be adopted statewide. Ranked choice voting has a long and successful history in many U.S. cities and institutions. It has been used in the city of Cambridge, for example, for more than 70 years. It has also been used successfully in other countries including Australia, Ireland, Scotland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Fiji and others. In 2016, the state of Maine voted to implement ranked choice voting statewide, and New York City voted to adopt it last November. Momentum toward national adoption of ranked choice voting is accelerating as numerous states are in various stages of following Maine and Massachusetts’ leads.

Our current election system, which is based on winners only having to receive the greatest number of votes regardless of whether that number represents a real majority (greater than 50 percent), results in numerous serious problems including vote-splitting, spoilers, two-party control, negative campaigning, and, as a result, widespread voter cynicism and apathy.

Most importantly, many candidates win elections with nothing resembling a real majority of voters behind them, and voters therefore feel that their votes don’t matter. Ranked choice voting effectively addresses these problems and others. It is entirely nonpartisan and does not favor one political party over another. It is simply a better, fairer, and well-tested way to run our elections and encourages more participation in the electoral process. We all want to see both our state and our country resolve our most pressing problems and move in a better direction. Ranked choice voting is our most effective leverage for achieving greater voter confidence and participation in our electoral system.

It is appropriate to be skeptical about anything that appears to be new and different, and everyone should evaluate ranked choice voting carefully before casting their votes for Question 2 in November. Most importantly, it is not new, and it has been well-tested across the U.S. and internationally with great success. A great place for information is the voterchoice2020.org website. There are also many YouTube videos about ranked choice voting. Please inform yourself, family and friends about this critically important issue. See you at the polls.