Supporters of Question 2 Looking for Fairer Elections

Ballot drop-box outside Eastham Town Hall.

HYANNIS – Question 2 on the November 3 ballot would introduce a new way of voting which supporters say would lead to more fair and diverse elections for voters of Massachusetts.

Question 2 proposes ranked choice voting, where voters will rank as many candidates as they want on their ballot as first choice, second choice, and so on depending on the number of candidates.

In this system, candidates must win at least 50 percent of the vote in order to win.

If no candidate receives the majority of votes in the first round of voting, then the candidate with the lowest amount of votes gets eliminated and their first-choice votes are reallocated based on who their supporters chose as their second choice.

The process repeats until one candidate reaches 50 percent.

“It ensures that no one can win without appealing to a majority of voters. You’re not going to see someone get in there with just 20, 21, or 22 percent of votes talking to a very narrow segment of the population,” said Jesse Mermell, Senior Advisor and Honorary Co-Chair for the Yes on 2 Campaign.

Proponents of Question 2 say that it would encourage more diverse and possibly less-well-funded candidates to run for offices, as they would not need to fear the risk of the “spoiler effect”, where a candidate most voters oppose wins because votes were split for other candidates.

Ranked choice supporters also say that the system would encourage candidates to campaign for and build consensus with voters who may have already chosen their first choice candidate, as winning a spot as a voter’s second choice would still be important to winning an election. 

“Voting yes on 2 is a simple, straight-forward way to strengthen our democracy, increase participation, move away from this lesser-of-two-evils dynamic we have now and give voters more voice,” said Mermell.

Opponents of Question 2 voiced concern that the system may decrease voter turnout with its more complicated ballot, which may cause confusion without clear instructions or prior voter education.

Opponents have also said that ranked choice may experience “ballot exhaustion”, where some voters do not rank all of the candidates on the ballot, leading to ballots that will not be counted in final rounds of tallying. 

If Question 2 passes, ranked choice voting would become standard for both primary and general elections for state and federal offices in Massachusetts in 2022.

This would include offices like district attorney and sheriff, state legislative seats, statewide seats like governor and attorney general, and races for the U.S. House and Senate.

Ranked choice voting would not be used for municipal elections or presidential election.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native currently living in Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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