Baker calls ranked-choice voting too complicated
Mermell calls comments ‘insulting to Mass. voters’
GOV. CHARLIE BAKER said on Tuesday that he opposes ranked-choice voting because it’s too complicated for both voters and election officials to carry out.
The governor said voting is already complicated enough. “From our point of view, this thing [ranked-choice voting] is too complicated to have on top of that,” he said at a State House press conference. “The counting process alone could get unbelievably difficult.”
Jesse Mermell, an honorary co-chair and senior advisor to the ranked choice campaign, said ranked choice was implemented in Maine with no problems and has been in use in Cambridge since 1941.
“I think that’s insulting to Massachusetts voters,” she said of the governor’s comments.
Ranked-choice voting would encourage voters to rank the candidates in races for Congress and state offices. After the initial tally, if no candidate gains a majority, the last-place candidate would be dropped out and the second choice of that candidate’s supporters would be distributed among the remaining candidates. The winnowing process would continue until one candidate gains a majority.
Supporters say ranked-choice voting would prevent situations in which a candidate in a crowded field wins with a relatively small percentage of the vote. Supporters say it would also encourage less infighting among candidates, as ultimate success may depend on attracting the eventual backing of a rival’s supporters.
The question’s backers say the cost of implementation in Maine worked out to about 8 cents per voter and they said existing regulations will require the use of tabulating machines for voting by 2022, so no new equipment would be necessary.
Baker’s stance lines up with the state Republican Party, which came out against the question earlier this month, saying the existing system works well. “The proposal seeks to permanently end our tried-and-true system of ‘one person, one vote,’” said Jim Lyons, the state party chair. “The proposal seeks to turn losers into winners and unnecessarily complicate our electoral process.”
Baker said he had confidence in the voting process as is. “I don’t want to overly complicate that process to such an extent that people start to wonder, you know, what is it that’s actually going on here. I’m going to vote no and so is the lieutenant governor,” he said.
He did not say how he intends to vote on Question 1, a right to repair ballot question, or who he favors in the race to replace Joe Kennedy III in Congress. Baker has said he is friends with both of the candidates – the Democrat, Auchincloss of Newton, and Republican Julie Hall of Attleboro.