Mass. GOP opposes ranked-choice voting

Party chair calls it ‘confusing and destructive system’

THE MASSACHUSETTS Republican Party is opposing a ballot question establishing ranked-choice voting, saying the measure would create “a confusing and destructive system completely at odds with our democracy.”

Ranked choice voting asks voters to rank candidates by preference. A candidate who gets a majority of first-place votes is the winner. If no one gets a majority, however, the last-place finisher is eliminated and voters’ second choices are applied to the remaining candidates. The process repeats until someone gets a majority.

Supporters say ranked-choice voting would end situations where a candidate wins in a crowded field with less than a majority of the overall vote. In the crowded Democratic primary race to replace Joe Kennedy III, for example, Jake Auchincloss won with 22.4 percent of the vote. Backers of ranked-choice voting also say it would discourage negative campaigning because victory may depend on appealing to voters who initially support rival candidates.

Critics say ranked-choice voting is too complicated and attempts to fix a problem that doesn’t really exist. They also don’t like the fact that someone could come in first on the original ballot and then lose as the field is winnowed down.

Jim Lyons, the chair of the state Republican Party, said the state Republican Committee voted unanimously last week to oppose Question 2, which would establish ranked-choice voting. He said the party’s opposition is not about party politics. “It’s a broader concern how voting will change,” he said. “We believe the system we have works well.”

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

In an email to supporters, Lyons said ranked-choice voting will result in less choice. “The proposal seeks to permanently end our tried-and-true system of ‘one person, one vote.’ The proposal seeks to turn losers into winners, and unnecessarily complicate our electoral process,” he wrote.

In Lyons’s email, he asked people to help raise awareness by handing out yard signs saying ,“No on 2, ranked choice is no choice.”