Opposition forming to ranked-choice voting

The ranked-choice voting ballot campaign has been pushing its message for months with only minimal, informal opposition.

Now, with two months left before the election, an organization is finally forming to oppose ranked-choice voting, with the earliest supporters coming from the conservative wing of Massachusetts politics.

As CommonWealth reported, an opposition committee was formed with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance on August 31, chaired by Cheryl Longtin of Westford. The group’s treasurer, Patricia Chessa, referred questions to Longtin. Longtin, who has been involved with the Westford Republican Town Committee, didn’t return calls.

But Anthony Amore, a Republican who ran for secretary of state unsuccessfully in 2018, returned a call for her. Amore said the committee is still being organized and more information will be available in another week or two.

Amore, director of security and chief investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, said he personally has long opposed ranked-choice voting. He said polls repeatedly show that, even in high-profile races, many voters are unfamiliar with the candidates.

Ranked-choice voting proponents point to the recent 4th Congressional District Democratic primary as a poster childfor ranked choice voting – seven candidates split the vote in a generally liberal field, leading to the victory of the most moderate candidate with less than 23 percent of the vote.

But Amore said the race illustrates the problems with ranked-choice voting. “I follow politics very closely and I can’t name all the people who ran. I definitely can’t tell you the differences between them,” Amore told CommonWealth. “To go in and say I’m going rank these eight people…the difference between them was razor thin, it becomes a guessing game.”

Asking voters to rank candidates in order of preference, Amore said, “sounds beautiful in a mathematical equation but practically speaking it’s disastrous.”

Amore appeared on the GBH show “Greater Boston” Wednesday as a representative of the campaign against ranked-choice voting and said similarly, “People don’t go into the voter booth with a heck of a lot of information.”

Also involved in the opposition is Paul Craney, a spokesperson for the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance — a group that does not disclose its donors and has faced scrutiny over whether its political activities trigger disclosure laws. Craney has been speaking out against ranked-choice voting since late 2019 and helped organize opponents to testify at a State House hearing.

Craney said Thursday that the ballot committee is still being formed. He does not anticipate Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance taking a role, although some board members – like Jennifer Braceras, the director of the Independent Women’s Law Center, who penned a Boston Globe op-ed on the topic — could speak out individually.

Craney said the No on 2 campaign “is not going to be as glamorous as Yes on 2, which is funded by national groups,” but will be a Massachusetts-based effort.

Of $4 million raised so far by the pro-ranked-choice voting committee, only $600,000 comes from Massachusetts donors. The Action Now Initiative, a Texas-based political advocacy group created by liberal donors John and Laura Arnold, contributed $2.3 million.

But the group, whose board is led by former gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk, does have prominent, bipartisan Massachusetts supporters, including former governors Deval Patrick and Bill Weld; former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey; former Harvard president Lawrence Summers; Boston Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca; voting rights activists like Cheryl Clyburn Crawford and Pam Wilmot; and well-connected political figures like former Boston housing chief Charlotte Golar Richie, Segun Idowu of the Black Economic Council, and Eva Millona of MIRA.

Although the opponents so far lean conservative, Craney said the committee is not yet formed, and his phone has been flooded with calls from Republicans and Democrats who oppose ranked-choice voting. “It’s not a partisan issue, it’s really not an ideological issue. The question is do we want to get rid of the current system in favor of another?” Craney said.

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

FROM COMMONWEALTH

A refusal by Andover teachers to prep for the new year inside schools is labeled an illegal strike by a state board and draws a sharp rebuke from Gov. Charlie Baker.

A new report commissioned by SJC Chief Justice Ralph Gants documents racial disparities in the filing and disposition of criminal charges.

Baker says COVID-19 precautions are helping to drive down health care costs for a wide assortment of other ailments, including ear infections, sore throats, and strep. At a State House press conference, he also backs Northeastern University’s suspension of students for violating COVID-19 gathering restrictions, shakes his head in amazement at Maine, dismisses a GBH investigative report, and refuses to endorse (at least for now) in the race for Joe Kennedy III’s old seat between Democrat Jake Auchincloss (who worked on his 2014 campaign) and Republican Julie Hall.

The number of communities at high risk for COVID-19 grows from 8 to 13, and the state’s overall per capita rate for COVID moves upward.

SJC case questions the enforceability of Uber’s rider agreement, which customers must agree to as they input credit card and other data while signing up for the service.

Opinion: Worcester, with its inability to provide educational technology to all who need it, is leaving many students behind, say Jennifer Davis Carey, Joshua Croke, Clara O’Rourke, and the Worcester Education Equity Roundtable.

FROM AROUND THE WEB             

BEACON HILL

Families of people shot to death by police rallied at the State House and asked Gov. Charlie Baker to appoint a special prosecutor to reopen investigations into eight deaths. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Fifteen members are appointed to Northampton’s new Policing Review Commission. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Activists in Boston’s black neighborhoods are divided over the movement to defund the police department. (GBH)

While Trump aides are aghast at the access he gave Bob Woodward for his devastating portrait of an overmatched leader, this review suggests Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his minions will be very happy with the soon-to-be-released four-hour-plus documentary “City Hall” by famed filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, which goes deep on the inner workings of city government under the mayah. (Hollywood Reporter)

The Boston Planning and Development Agency could approve the massive Suffolk Downs development project at a meeting scheduled for later this month. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Sandra Fenwick, the CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, will retire in March. (Boston Globe)

A 28-year-old South Carolina third-grade teacher dies from COVID-19. Her school district was teaching remotely. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President Trump told Bob Woodward in a series of interviews in late winter and early spring that the coronavirus was a serious and deadly threat but that he was deliberately playing it down. (Washington Post) Woodward is facing blowback for his decision to withhold the information until now. (Associated Press)

Gov. Charlie Baker says President Trump’s unemployment insurance plan is not “sustainable” and calls on Congress to make a deal. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin says he needs at least $1 million more to mail out ballots for the November general election. (State House News Service) Galvin confirms that the September primary, the first statewide election featuring mail-in voting, drew record turnout of 1.7 million voters. (MassLive)

Shirley Leung says Boston Mayor Marty Walsh spilling the beans on Michelle Wu’s plans to challenge him was “straight out of the playbook of the patriarchy.” (Boston Globe) Joan Vennochi says the mayoral race will be about leadership — and Walsh has shown it during the pandemic. (Boston Globe)

Rayla Campbell, a Republican who waged a write-in campaign in last week’s primary to land a spot on the November ballot challenging Rep. Ayanna Pressley, is suing after Secretary of State Bill Galvin said her roughly 1,200 write-in votes fell short of the 2,000-vote requirement. (Boston Herald)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Boston office vacancy rates are surging — and rents are falling — as businesses make more permanent adjustments to their needs following the coronavirus shutdown this spring. (Boston Herald)

Worcester Regional Airport will likely be left with no commercial airline service as of October, as Delta announces it will eliminate its flight from Worcester to Detroit. The airport used to have three commercial airlines but has been hammered by COVID-19. (Telegram & Gazette)

A Yarmouth tavern and a private club are being brought before the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission next week for not obeying coronavirus protocols. (Cape Cod Times)

EDUCATION

Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Lynnfield School Committee votes to drop plans for a hybrid school opening and go all remote. (Daily Item)

Colleges besides Northeastern — which booted out 11 students with no plans to refund their fall semester tuition — are also coming down hard on students who violate social distancing rules. (Boston Globe)

Massachusetts schoolchildren will now get Juneteenth as an official day off. The June 19 holiday commemorates the end of slavery in the US. (MassLive)

A second grade teacher in Milford is charged with possession of child pornography. (MetroWest Daily News)

TRANSPORTATION

MassDOT is almost halfway done with its nearly six-year project to improve and widen Route 18 from Weymouth to Abington. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

NPR launches a localized news broadcast that in Boston is uniting local public radio rivals WBUR and GBH. (NPR)

The Atlantic sees a surge in subscriptions after President Trump calls it a “dying magazine” for publishing a piece alleging he called Americans who died in wars “losers” and “suckers.” (CNN)

Marijuana retailer 6 Bricks is considering leasing space from the Springfield Republican to open a marijuana shop in part of the Republican’s building on Main Street in Springfield. (MassLive)