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‘Voter Choice’ set for ballot

January 7, 2020


The Local 888 Executive Board voted to support “ranked choice” voting in state elections. This would mean that voters could weigh in on more than just their first choice. The Massachusetts attorney general recently OK’d putting this initiative on the 2020 ballot.

Last March, Fall River voted overwhelmingly to toss out the city’s mayor in a recall vote. Then-Mayor Jasiel Correia was facing federal tax evasion and fraud charges.

The will of the people, however, was ignored.

That’s because Correia was still listed on the same ballot as other candidates for mayor. And although he did not come near getting a majority of the vote, in a crowded field of candidates he still topped the ticket — with only 35 percent.

Voter Choice Massachusetts is leading the charge for ranked-choice voting, which likely would have prevented the Fall River election debacle.

For starters, voters would be allowed, if they chose, to rank their choices of candidates.

In this scenario, those who cast No. 1 votes for the least-popular candidate would see their No. 2 votes doled out to the remaining candidates. This process would continue until one candidate received a majority of the vote.

The measure is set to appear on the ballot next November.

In the meantime, there are bills up on Beacon Hill that would make ranked-choice voting into law. The lead sponsors are state Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), Rep. Andres X. Vargas (D-Haverhill) and Rep. Adrian Madaro (D-Boston).

For its part, Maine recently adopted ranked-choice voting after the notorious Paul LePage was elected governor twice with less than a majority of the vote. The first time, in 2010, the Republican only got 38 percent of the vote.

In 2018, neither the U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a two-term Republican incumbent, not Jared Golden, a Democratic state lawmaker, originally gained a majority. The Republican candidate had a slight edge in votes.

But due to ranked-choice voting, ballots cast for two independent candidates were eliminated in the first round. Those votes were then distributed to the two main candidates. The result: Golden got a majority and won the race for U.S. Congress.

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