To the Editor:
We must reform our voting system to accurately reflect the voices of voters. The current “first-past-the-post” system can often be demoralizing and restricting. Far too often, vote splitting occurs between similar candidates, and as a result, the winning candidate receives well below the majority of votes in an election.
Just last month, Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss won the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary with only 22.41 percent of the vote, which had been split between nine candidates. These results show that, right now, winning candidates can be backed by an unsettling fraction of the electorate. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) would fix this.
How it actually works was shown in Maine in 2018 when a state representative, Jared Golden, launched a campaign against Congressman Bruce Poliquin in the 2nd Congressional District. During the general election, more voters who in their ranked votes had supported Independents Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar (23,427 votes total) also preferred Golden over Poliquin, and once they were eliminated from the race, Bond’s and Hoar’s votes were distributed accordingly (10,427 to Golden and 4,474 to Poliquin). Golden won the race, 50.62 to 49.38. Plain and simple: RCV works.
Question 2 on the Massachusetts ballot next month would give voters in future elections the option of ranking candidates numerically in order of preference, thus ensuring that a plurality of the votes will ultimately elect a candidate for any particular district. RCV guarantees that future winners will receive at least 50 percent of the vote.
In turn, the RCV system will mean that winning candidates have a wide base of supporters and are representative of the communities that they serve, which is critical as we all address pressing issues like systemic racism, equal pay, transportation, and redistricting.
Furthermore, RCV allows more candidates to run without concern for vote splitting as the eliminated candidates’ supporters for second, or third, or more places will be part of the final mix.
We must make sure that all our votes count, and that our voices are truly heard. Please vote yes on Question 2 on November 3rd.
– Matthew J. Shochat. Associate Member
Ward 17 Democratic Committee