About Ranked Choice Voting

Voter Choice for Massachusetts is a campaign to place a question on the 2020 ballot that would bring Ranked Choice Voting to Massachusetts elections starting in 2022.

What is Ranked Choice Voting?

Ranked Choice Voting is a commonsense change that would give votersCandidate List Icon the choice to rank candidates for office in the order they prefer them.

This simple change will give Massachusetts voters a stronger voice when we cast our ballots and ensure that our elected leaders have majority support.

Ranked Choice Voting gives voters more choice by letting them pick who they like best, without settling for the “lesser of two evils.” It opens up the process to diverse voices, including women and people of color, by giving all candidates a chance to compete and win.

Ranked Choice Voting is an important step to empower and re-energize Massachusetts voters at this critical time in our democracy.

Key Benefits of Ranked Choice Voting

+ Ensures Majority Support

by eliminating the “spoiler effect” to elect a candidate who appeals to a broad base of voters. In our current “plurality” system, candidates can win election despite being the last choice of most voters. Ranked Choice Voting guarantees the election of majority winners, whose support extends beyond a narrow base, by requiring the winner to have more than 50% of the vote. This is done in a series of “instant runoffs” until one candidate reaches a majority. For more detail, see How Does RCV Work?

+ Minimizes Strategic Voting

by encouraging voters to choose their true favorite, without settling for the “lesser of two evils.” In our current system, if your favorite candidate is unlikely to win, you have two bad choices: you could cast a “safe” vote for one of the front-runners, to avoid electing the one you like least, or cast a principled but risky vote for your favorite candidate. Voters shouldn’t be forced to take sides in this lose-lose dilemma. Ranked Choice Voting lets more voters vote for candidates they actually support, not just against the ones they oppose.

+ Promotes Diverse Candidates

by encouraging more candidates to run for office without fear of vote-splitting. In our current system, many candidates are pressured to drop out, shamed as “spoilers,” and excluded from public debates. Ranked Choice Voting welcomes all candidates into the race — and you can’t win if you don’t run. A study of cities with Ranked Choice Voting (summary, full report) found women and people of color are running and winning office more often than they are in cities without RCV.

+ Curbs Negative Campaigning

by rewarding candidates who reach beyond their base to find common ground with more voters. Voters are tired of toxic campaign rhetoric and mud-slinging. With Ranked Choice Voting, candidates do best when they reach out positively to as many voters as possible, including those supporting their opponents. While candidates must still differentiate themselves to earn 1st-choice support, a campaign that emphasizes negative attacks over positive ideas may lose crucial 2nd and 3rd choice support. Comprehensive polling that compared cities with RCV to those without found that voters in RCV cities experienced campaign messages that were more positive and constructive.

+ Strengthens Party Unity

by tempering intra-party tensions during contested primaries and choosing nominees with a mandate from party voters. By allowing voters to rank primary candidates in order of preference, Ranked Choice Voting helps consolidate rather than divide competing party factions. The incentive to positively campaign under RCV means fewer rifts between party members after a hotly contested primary, and the requirement that winners demonstrate a majority of support under RCV will give nominees the mandate they need to rally party members behind them. RCV helps every party put their best foot forward heading into the general election.

How does Ranked Choice Voting work?

Ranked Choice Voting allows voters the option to rank candidates on the ballot in order of preference: first, second, third, and so on. If one candidate receives a majority (more than 50%) of the first-choice votes, that candidate is elected. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and those votes count instantly towards the next choice on each voter’s ballot. This process repeats in a series of rounds until one candidate has a majority. For more detail, see “How Does RCV Work?

Where is Ranked Choice Voting used?

After many cities around the US had begun using RCV for their local elections, Maine became the first state in the nation to use RCV for state and federal contests in 2018. New York City followed by enacting RCV in 2019, and two Massachusetts cities will begin using it next year. Ranked Choice Voting is used in some form in 25 states. For more detail, see “Where is RCV Used?”.

Who supports Ranked Choice Voting?

The push for fairer elections with Ranked Choice Voting continues to gain traction nationwide. Visit our Endorsements page to see just some of the local and national organizations that support Ranked Choice Voting.

Got a more detailed question about Ranked Choice Voting?

Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page!

Here’s how you can help.

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More Voice, More Choice.

We need your help to give Massachusetts voters a stronger voice when we cast our ballots, and guarantee that our elected leaders are supported by a true majority.
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More Voice, More Choice.

We need your help to give Massachusetts voters a stronger voice when we cast our ballots, and guarantee that our elected leaders are supported by a true majority.