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Voters Say 'No' To Ranked-Choice Voting In Mass.

A summary of Ballot Question 2, known as a "Ranked-Choice Voting" law, in the Nov. 3, 2020, Massachusetts election is displayed in a handbook provided to voters by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 in Marlborough, Mass. (Bill Sikes/AP)
A summary of Ballot Question 2, known as a "Ranked-Choice Voting" law, in the Nov. 3, 2020, Massachusetts election is displayed in a handbook provided to voters by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 in Marlborough, Mass. (Bill Sikes/AP)

Voters have rejected a proposal to begin using ranked-choice voting in Massachusetts, according to the Associated Press. Under ranked-choice voting, voters would have gotten a new type of ballot for certain races that allowed them to indicate which candidates they prefer if their first choice didn't win.

Voter Choice Massachusetts, the group behind the measure slated as Question 2 on the ballot this year, conceded early Wednesday morning. The measure failed with 55% voting against, per the AP.

Opponents of the measure, including Gov. Charlie Baker, cast it as an overly-complicated system — an argument that appeared to carry the day with voters in the state. Supporters promoted a ranked-choice voting system saying it would deepen residents’ participation in some statewide elections, and ensure no candidate in those races is elected without majority support. Proponents pointed to recent primary elections that have resulted in winners with less than 25% of the votes, in some cases splitting progressive votes to the advantage of more moderate ones.

A ranked-choice voting system only applies to races with three or more candidates, and only when one candidate does not receive greater than 50% of the vote in the initial tally. Non-first choice votes only come into play when a last-place candidate is eliminated; then, votes cast for the last-place candidate are redistributed to the voters’ secondary choices.

Here's our explainer from earlier in this election cycle on how the system works:

Maine is the first state in the country to implement ranked-choice voting statewide. Mainers used the system for the first time in a presidential election this year.

It's unclear whether supporters of ranked-choice voting will regroup in the aftermath of the question's defeat.

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Simón Ríos is an award-winning bilingual reporter in WBUR's newsroom.

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