Ranked-Choice Voting Opponents Say Issue Is Now Settled In Massachusetts By Decisive Rejection From Voters

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/11/05/ranked-choice-voting-opponents-say-issue-is-now-settled-in-massachusetts-by-decisive-rejection-from-voters/

For those who oppose ranked-choice voting, Tuesday night was a victory.

That includes the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, which opposed the bill and wrote the official argument against Question 2 in the Massachusetts voters guide sent to households across the state before the 2020 general election. Bay State voters rejected the measure 55 percent to 45 percent. 

In a Zoom call on Wednesday morning, Craney and Anthony Amore, the Republican Party’s 2018 Secretary of State nominee and volunteer surrogate speaker for the No Ranked Choice Voting committee, spoke to reporters about what’s next for ranked-choice voting in the state, effective electoral reform, and why some politicians supported the measure.

Craney started the call off with a statement thanking everyone who helped reject the ballot measure and touting the success despite his side being outspent 1000 to one.

“While out-of-state billionaires spent over $10 million to try to make Massachusetts a guinea pig for their ranked-choice experiment, according to data from the Office of Campaign and Political Finance the official No Ranked Choice Committee spent less than $10,000 to stop it,” Craney said. “That’s less than a cent per vote for the No side, compared to $7.41 per vote on the Yes side. It was a true grassroots effort. We won, but the real winners are the people of Massachusetts.”

The measure had support from many notable Massachusetts politicians, but opposition from Massachusetts Republican party chairman Jim Lyons, governor Charlie Baker, and lieutenant governor Karyn Polito.

Proponents of ranked-choice voting say that it improves the democratic process by making the candidate with the broadest appeal the winner as opposed to whoever receives the most first-place votes in a plurality. However, since U.S. Senator Ed Markey, who has been in Congress since 1976 was among its supporters, a New Boston Post reporter asked Craney and Amore why a career politician would favor the measure.

Craney noted that those politicians supporting the measure were supporting a type of election they had no experience with, while there is bipartisan opposition among those who have experienced ranked-choice voting.

“Anthony and I gave dozens of these interviews and we always heard they have Bill Weld the former Republican governor, Deval Patrick,” Craney said. “You name it, they’ve got it. We always came back to, ‘None of these politicians in Massachusetts, no matter how prestigious they may be have ever experienced a ranked-choice election.’ And you’ve got to look at what are the opinions of politicians around the country who have gone for ranked-choice elections. And in our voter guide that Secretary Galvin put out, we actually talked about how the governors of California Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsome at the municipal level experienced ranked-choice voting and they also thought that the benefits do not outweigh the costs, so they vetoed it as governors. So we heard that talking point a lot.”

Amore argued that ranked-choice voting protects the status quo.

“When I looked at the fact that Ed Markey, Bill Galvin, and John Kerry came out strongly in favor of it, we’re able to tell people, ‘Do you really believe that this system breaks the trend of entrenched power when Ed Markey was seeking and successfully did extending his career in Washington to 50 years at the end of his next term, and Bill Galvin has been in office since I was in first grade, I think?’ ” Amore said. “To think that these guys are coming out and saying this will help give more choice to voters and to think they really want voters to have more choice, I don’t think rings true to the average person in Massachusetts. I truly believe their support of it helped us.”

Additionally, Amore spoke about two small ways the state could improve the voting process that would create a better chance of shaking up the status quo. He said that the state should stop putting the incumbent candidate at the top of the ballot, and stop printing “Candidate for Re-election” next to their names. He argued that is a gift to career politicians — hence why they won’t address those more prevalent issues.

“Those are two obvious laws that are geared towards hitting the voter over the head with the fact that they should vote for the person who’s in office right now,” Amore said.

As for whether or not ranked-choice voting could come up again in the future in Massachusetts given its support among politicians, Craney said it’s possible — but maybe not the best use of resources for the other side.

He noted that if supporters of ranked-choice voting want, they could go through the same process to get the question on the ballot in 2022.

“Anyone that has the willpower can put something on the ballot, but anyone can defeat as well,” Craney said. “Anyone can do whatever they want if it’s constitutional, and there’s enough support for it. I think those three major funders to the Yes side are going to have to figure out what they want to do. Anthony and I were talking this morning and it looks like ranked-choice is going down in Alaska as well. I don’t think it was a good night for the people funding ranked-choice voting nationally, so I think they’re gonna have to decide what their priorities are.”

While answering a question Craney also noted that a bill seeking to implement ranked-choice voting could come up in the Massachusetts legislature, but said the voters made it clear how they feel about the idea last night.

“Anytime the legislature does anything, it’s supposed to be the will of the people and in this case, the will of the people is pretty clear of what they think of ranked-choice,” Craney said. “It was implemented in Worcester and repealed. It was put on the ballot in Lowell and rejected, and now the state has rejected it with a 10-point win. That’s up to them, Steph, if they want to pursue something that has no mandate and the voters have spoken pretty clear on it. We’ll have to address it if at that time if it does come up legislatively.”