Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ranked Choice Voting

 Training for RCV signature gathering at Robbins Library in Arlington MA | Photo: mas

More and more we're seeing one or more ballot initiatives being used as a tool by citizens for action in the Massachusetts legislature, which in turn means turning out for training on messaging and signature gathering.

Last night I attended a training on Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) at the Robbins Library in Arlington, presented by Voter Choice Massachusetts (VCMA). Their petition awaits approval from the Attorney General, along with about a dozen others. If approved, VCMA's current legislative proposal would need to be acted upon by legislators by next spring.

VCMA is advocating for the expanded use of RCV, which allows voters to rank the candidates on the ballot in order of preference. The effort, if successful, 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 voters.

Those of us who have gathered signatures for ballot initiatives are familiar with the process. If approved, RCV signature sheets become available. The legal process requires submitting 80K certified signatures, which means submitting many more than that, and not more than 25% of signatures may come from any one county in the state. See this guidance document from the Massachusetts Secretary of State.

In a nutshell, this petition, if passed in 2020, would see RCV implemented for the 2022 ballot. RCV is a simple upgrade to the way we vote. Currently, in a field of multiple candidates, we get one chance with our vote; that choice may not gather 50% required for the win. With RCV you can set your preferences and order your choices; if your first choice doesn't get 50%, your subsequent  choices are activated until one candidate secures 50% of the electorate.

Cambridge adopted RCV in 1939. More on that HERE.

Signatures would need to be returned to City and Town Clerks by November 20, 2019 and the deadline to submit to the Secretary of State by December 4, 2019.

We will hear more about this initiative very soon. Stay tuned.