FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 20, 2019
Contact: Adam Friedman, Executive Director
BOSTON--As Senators and Representatives considered the 6,000 bills filed at the start of the 2019-2020 legislative session, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) emerged as one of the most popular issues in the State House.
Voter Choice Massachusetts (VCMA) is the advocacy group behind two bills this session -- each filed in both the House and the Senate -- with the goal of bringing Ranked Choice Voting to Massachusetts.
SD768/HD815 “An Act Relative to Ranked Choice Voting” was filed in the Senate by Senator Jason M. Lewis (D-Winchester) and in the House by Representative Andy X. Vargas (D-Haverhill) and Representative Adrian C. Madaro (D-Boston). This legislation was introduced for the first time this session and would implement RCV for all state and federal races (excluding presidential races) beginning in the September 2022 primary.
Senator Rebecca L. Rausch (D-Needham) and Representative Jennifer E. Benson (D-Lunenburg) filed SD1800/HD1999, “An Act Providing a Local Option for Ranked Choice Voting in Municipal Elections.” This legislation would make it easier for cities and towns to adopt RCV for their local elections.
Collectively, the bills garnered a record 82 cosponsors. Voter Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Adam Friedman said: “It is highly unusual to see such strong support right off the bat for legislation making its debut on Beacon Hill. The Legislature is sending a clear message that there is an appetite within the body for upgrading the way we vote. We plan to build on this momentum throughout the rest of the session with the end goal of seeing the Legislature adopt RCV as a remedy to improving our electoral system.”
Senator Lewis said: “RCV has positioned itself to be one of the hottest policy issues on Beacon Hill. I am pleased that so many of my colleagues recognize that RCV provides a common-sense solution to problems within our current electoral system. I am a long-time supporter of RCV and look forward to continuing to champion the issue this legislative session.”
Ranked Choice Voting is a simple upgrade to our election system which allows voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. This solves the "spoiler effect" and vote-splitting, encourages positive, issue-based campaigns, and produces a winner that reflects the majority of the electorate.
Senator Rausch said: “Among its many attributes, data proves that Ranked Choice Voting helps to elect women and people of color. If we want to generate equal representation in elected office and change the face of politics, then we must literally change the face of politics. We do that in part by modifying existing systems to combat historic barriers to access. RCV is one of the modifications we need, particularly given that Massachusetts ranks 27th in the nation for women serving in state legislatures, well behind every other New England state, and lags far behind in racial diversity as well. We must do everything we can to ensure our elected bodies truly represent our population.”
Maine introduced Ranked Choice Voting statewide for the 2018 elections. RCV is also used in some form in 21 states. With the strong show of support from the legislature and the tens of thousands of volunteers and supporters that Voter Choice Massachusetts has within its ranks, the Commonwealth has now taken the lead nationwide on RCV.
“Ranked Choice Voting is one of the best ways to strengthen our democracy in a time when we need it most,” said Representative Vargas. “As legislators and citizens begin to learn more about the simplicity and impact of RCV, I’m looking forward to making it a reality in Massachusetts.”
“For cities and towns that wish to increase voter turnout and save money by replacing two-round runoff elections with a single ranked-choice ‘instant runoff’ contest, the local option bill will help expedite the process,” said Rep. Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenberg). “RCV strengthens our democracy and has the added benefit of saving our municipalities money by negating the need for second-round runoffs.”
With the national political conversation grappling with the possibility of an independent “spoiler” candidate in the presidential race and rising partisan polarization, the Massachusetts legislature is leading the way on a new idea that could revolutionize politics across the country.
Representative Madaro said, “Voters win when elections provide more choices and democracy wins when elections are won by a true majority. Ranked Choice Voting strengthens our elections by letting voters focus on their choices and not on strategy. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance RCV this session.”
Voter Choice Massachusetts is a non-partisan, politically diverse, non-profit organization dedicated to educating the Massachusetts public about electoral reforms that increase the range of choice on the ballot and produce fairer outcomes for all. Voter Choice MA advocates for the expanded use of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), which allows voters to rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference. RCV would make Massachusetts elections more competitive and fair by encouraging the participation of more candidates and parties, and by ensuring outcomes that more accurately reflect the will of the voters.
Voter Choice Massachusetts
44 Temple Place, #5 / Boston, MA 02111