Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), proposed via Question 2 on the Massachusetts November ballot, gives voters more voice, in our view. This system of voting allows you to rank the candidates in the order of your preference. If, after the votes are tallied, no candidate has achieved a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. That candidate’s votes are then redistributed to those voters’ second choice. This process continues until a majority is achieved. As the slogan goes, it is literally as simple as 1-2-3.
There could be no more compelling case for this kind of voting than two recent elections for Congress in Massachusetts. In 2018, in the Democratic primary to fill the seat of former Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, there were 10 candidates. On Primary Day, 85,570 votes were cast. The winner received 18,580 votes, or 21.7% of the votes cast. To add insult to injury, the person in second place received 18,435 votes, or 21.5% of the votes cast. That represents two distinct problems:
1-The person who won had the support of approximately 1 out of 5 voters. If you walked down the street and asked people, do you support x (pick any policy you’re curious about), and only 1 out of 5 people said yes, you would tell your friends and family, wow, x idea doesn’t have much support at all.
2-The fact that the person who came in second was only 145 votes behind, or .2%, underscores the problem with ‘winner take all’ ---it’s supposed to be ‘majority rules In a democracy.
More recently, in the September 2020 primary to replace Congressman Joe Kennedy, there were similar results: There were 9 candidates running for the seat, for whom 156,029 were cast. The winner received 34,971, votes, or 22.4%, and the second place candidate received 32,938, or 22.1%.
I like to make food analogies. If you want spaghetti for dinner, and you go to the closet and you only have ziti, are you going to skip dinner? Probably not. You likely have a second choice that makes you just about as happy. And if you don’t have either of those, macaroni will do. The way our current elections work when there are more than 2 candidates---it’s like you want pasta but you get jello.
Whatever your favored analogy, we recommend Yes on 2 on November 3.