Gomez, Falchuk urge yes on Q2

Ranked choice voting rewards candidates with broad appeal

AS AMERICANS, we are at our best when we are united. But these days, our politics are driving us further and further apart. It doesn’t have to be this way. On November 3, Republican, Democratic, and Independent voters in Massachusetts have a chance to send a message that we’ve had enough by voting YES on Question 2 – a non-partisan political reform to adopt Ranked Choice Voting starting in 2022.

Ranked-choice voting has been used in major democracies around the world for more than 100 years, in Southern states for military and overseas voters, and in nearly 20 cities across the country. Maine became the first state to use ranked choice voting for state and federal elections and will use it for the presidential election this November.

Ranked choice voting works because it rewards candidates who appeal to a majority of voters, not just to their base; eliminates the problem of “spoiler” candidates and vote-splitting; and will help restore functionality to our government. Under ranked choice voting, voters have more choice and more voice – you never have to worry that you are wasting your vote, and you won’t ever feel like you’re stuck choosing between the lesser of two evils.

Some people have tried to make ranked choice voting sound complicated, but it’s actually simple and fair. You can pick one candidate, just like you always have, or you can rank candidates in the order of your preference — first, second, third, and so on. When ballots are counted, if someone gets a majority of the votes they win. If no one gets a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the second choices of that candidate’s voters are redistributed among the remaining candidates. This “instant runoff” process continues until a candidate gets a majority of votes and is declared the winner.

Today candidates with similar views or backgrounds are pressured to drop out of the race out of fear they will be spoilers and make it possible for someone to win in a crowded field with as little as 20 percent of the overall vote. It just happened in the 4th Congressional District. In that race, seven candidates split the vote – and the winner ended up with 22 percent of the ballots. The candidates in that race, including the winner, all support ranked choice voting, with some calling it the “poster child” for ranked choice voting. We agree.

In the current system, regrettably, candidates also have an incentive to run negative campaigns. And although large numbers of voters say they want independent candidates, under the current system those candidates don’t stand a chance. Voters report feeling like a vote for an independent is a “wasted vote,” so they end up voting based on who they dislike the least. It makes for a dismal and cynical public discourse.

Ranked choice voting helps get rid of these problems. You can always vote for who you truly like first, and if he or she ends up eliminated, your vote still counts towards your second choice. Ranked choice voting discourages divisive campaigns, because every candidate needs to convince every other candidate’s supporters to support them as their second or even third choice. Imagine if candidates who disagreed on an issue didn’t accuse the other of being bad or unpatriotic but instead complimented each other for their thoughtful approach to the issue and tried to find common ground. Ranked choice voting makes that into a reality.

Because ranked choice voting produces winners who truly represent the majority, voters can expect their elected officials to actually work to deliver on the promises they made on the campaign trail. Too often our government is beset by partisan politics and refusal to compromise across the aisle. Under rank choice voting, lawmakers are incentivized to work for all of their constituents, knowing they’ll have to answer to the majority of voters on Election Day— not just their “base.”

Meet the Author

Gabriel Gomez

Managing director/former Navy Seal/former US Senate candidate, Equality Asset Management
Meet the Author

We support ranked choice voting because it is a simple but important upgrade to our democracy. More than ever, America needs change that will produce better candidates, better governance, and a better public discourse. Join us in voting yes on Question 2 this November – our Commonwealth will be better for it.

Gabriel Gomez is a former Navy SEAL, a former Republican candidate for US Senate from Massachusetts, and a managing director of Equality Asset Management, a Boston-based investment company. Evan Falchuk is chair of the YES on 2 campaign, a former United Independent candidate for governor of Massachusetts, and the CEO of VillagePlan, a Boston-based telehealth company.