RCV Ballot Design - FairVote
ranked choice ballot : a bad idea masquerading as a reform. Do not allow it.

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On the November ballot as Question 2 will be a voter question : should Massachusetts adopt the “ranked choice” method of voting ?

We urge a NO vote.

Here’s why :

First : ranked choice will cut in half the power of your vote. As we vote today, with two major candidates on the ballot, we vote for one and not for the other. This is worth TWO votes. Because if you take one vote away from candidate A and give it to candidate B, you change the result by two, not one.

Under ranked choice, you give first choice to A but second choice to B. Your second choice vote for B gets added to her first choice votes. Which means that A, your preferred winner, gets only a slight bump instead of the equivalent of two votes. I doubt this is a result most of us want to see happen to our vote.

Second : ranked choice empowers organized activists far more than ordinary voters. Ordinary voters don’t organize campaigns. They only vote. But organized activists do organize campaigns, and in a ranked choice system, they can put five, seven, nine, or fifteen candidates from their group onto the ballot. They then give each of these a rank vote, where a non-activist candidate gets only ordinary votes, the activists blanking him. Count up the activist candidate votes, and the ultimate winner far outvotes the sole non-activist, who receives no activist ranking.

This situation actually just happened in the 4th Massachusetts Congress District, where a non-activist candidate won with 25 % of the vote, the activist candidates splitting the other 75 percent. Had ranked choice been operative, an activist candidate would easily have won. Why so ? Because activists know not to give any rank vote to the non-activist, where ordinary voters, offered a rank vote, would almost all use it.

Not surprisingly, the 4th’s activists, having lost, now want to change the rules. I think we know why.

Third : ranked vote reduces the power of your single vote by giving you a number of votes, each less powerful, than the one you already have, but in total, amounting to more than your one powerful vote. I doubt that any of us is entitled to more than one vote, no mater how weak the plural votes may be. With one vote, you use it or you don’t. With plural voting, some have an opportunity to vote more than others. Do we rally want to empower this sort of inequality ? I hope not.

Ranked choice voting is bad idea. It devalues your vote, empowers special interests, and creates inequality in voting. IT MUST BE REJECTED.

—- Mike Freedberg, for the editors at Here and Sphere

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