FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Contact: Emily Fitzmaurice, Voter Choice Massachusetts, 617-817-0257
BOSTON – Today, over 300 activists and voters from across the Commonwealth participated in a Lobby Day on Beacon Hill in support of two bills that would strengthen our democracy and empower all voters by bringing Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to Massachusetts elections.
"The groundswell of support for RCV we are seeing in every corner of the Commonwealth is truly awe-inspiring,” said Mac D'Alessandro, State Director of Voter Choice Massachusetts. “We’re talking to voters every day, just like you, who want to have a stronger voice and more choice when they go to the polls. With our supporters inside and outside the State House, we've grown into the strongest statewide RCV movement in the country and we're going to continue to fight for a stronger democracy by bringing RCV to Massachusetts."
Ranked Choice Voting, which is used for elections in over 20 states, would be a simple upgrade to the ballot to allow voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. Before setting out to make their case for RCV to their legislators, participants heard directly from the lead sponsors of the RCV bills before the legislature, both of which are currently in the Joint Committee on Election Laws. Collectively, the two bills have over 80 legislative co-sponsors.
An Act Relative to Ranked Choice Voting, filed by Senator Jason Lewis (Senate Bill 414) and Representatives Andy Vargas and Adrian Madaro (House Bill 719), would enact RCV for every non-presidential federal and state elections in Massachusetts in both primaries and general elections beginning in 2022.
“Although voting is more important than ever, low voter turnout, uncompetitive races and a lack of diversity among candidates pose serious risks to the efficacy and representativeness of our elections,” said Senator Lewis (D-Winchester). "Ranked choice voting can address these problems and ensure that every vote counts towards the outcome of elections in Massachusetts."
“Voters win when elections provide more choices and democracy wins when elections are won by a true majority,” said Representative Madaro (D-Boston). "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, and I am thankful to all the hardworking activists turning out to advocate for better, more representative elections."
"From Barack Obama to Bill Weld, Ranked Choice Voting has broad support across the political spectrum," said Representative Vargas (D-Haverhill). “Ranked Choice Voting is a necessary reform to preserve and strengthen our democracy. It leads to good government, accurate representation, and civil discourse. It's time to modernize our democracy and adopt ranked choice voting. I'm proud that, through our collective efforts, our bill has over 65 co-sponsors in the legislature."
Participants also lobbied their elected officials in support of An Act Providing a Local Option for Ranked Choice Voting in Municipal Elections, filed by Senator Rebecca Rausch (Senate Bill 420) and Representative Jennifer Benson (House Bill 635), which seeks to create easier paths for cities and towns that want to adopt RCV in their local elections.
“One of my primary goals as Senator is to support in every way possible a strong democracy and an engaged electorate. Ranked choice voting is critical to achieving that goal,"said Senator Rausch (D-Needham). “RCV promotes voter engagement, presents voters with a more accurate voice on the ballot, and provides for a more diverse and representative set of candidates. I am proud to sponsor the local option bill because, at a minimum, municipalities should be able to decide if RCV is a better choice for their own local elections without unnecessary state legislative process and oversight."
“In local and state elections across the country, we've seen the benefits of ranked choice voting," said Representative Benson (D-Lunenberg). “RCV strengthens our democracy by ensuring voters are represented by public officials who win a majority of their support. I'm proud to be the lead sponsor of the local-option RCV bill and I look forward to working with advocates and my colleagues to advance this legislation."
Today's Lobby Day was organized by Voter Choice Massachusetts (VCMA), the non-partisan organization working to educate the public about the benefits of using RCV to reform our elections, strengthen our democracy, and increase voter voice and choice. VCMA has brought together a variety of community activists, business leaders, elected officials, and grassroots activists to work toward election reform through RCV.
“If we really want to strengthen our democracy, we need to empower each and every voter in the Commonwealth," said Gladys Vega, Executive Director of the Chelsea Collaborative and VCMA Advisory Board Member. “Ranked choice voting will strengthen our voices at the ballot box, empowering and re-energizing voters in every community. We're excited to be a part of the statewide momentum advocating for RCV to increase voter engagement and ensure our diverse communities are reflected by those entrusted to represent our communities and values."
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 fairer by encouraging the participation of more candidates and parties, and by ensuring outcomes that more accurately reflect the will of the voters.