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Ranked choice voting clears hurdle for 2020 Mass. ballot

Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin held a public drawing today to determine the order in which presidential candidates will be listed on the ballots for the Massachusetts Presidential Primaries on March 3rd in Nurses Hall at the State House. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff)David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A ranked choice voting measure is a step closer to being on the state 2020 ballot after the Secretary of State’s office notified advocates that more than 111,000 signatures have been certified for their proposal.

Voter Choice Massachusetts said in a Friday release that under its proposal, voters will still only cast one ballot, but if three or more candidates run for an office, voters would be given a choice to rank candidates in the order they prefer them.

According to the group, if one candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, that candidate wins. If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice would have their vote count toward the next choice on their ballot.


Voters would be able to rank as many or as few candidates as they want, or they could choose just one candidate. The measure would go into effect in state and federal elections beginning in 2022. The proposal would not apply to presidential or local municipal elections.

In 2018, a Maine congressional race became the first in US history to be decided by ranked-choice voting. According to Voter Choice Massachusetts, the process is used for municipal elections in over 20 states.

Emily Fitzmaurice, a spokeswoman for Voter Choice for Massachusetts, called ranked choice voting a “common sense upgrade to the ballot that will strengthen our democracy and re-engage voters at this critical time.” Since early September, the group has had more than 1,000 volunteers spent more than 5,000 hours helping the campaign, including collecting signatures.

“With the help of hundreds of volunteers, we didn’t just meet our goals, we blew passed them – getting over 31,000 more certified signatures needed at this stage in our campaign to give Massachusetts voters more choice and a stronger voice at the ballot box," she said.


The measure will now be transmitted to the clerk of the state’s House of Representatives, according to Voter Choice for Massachusetts. If the state Legislature does not act on the matter before early May, advocates will start a second round of signature gathering, with campaign required to submit at least 13,374 certified signatures to the Secretary of State’s office by July 1, according to Voter Choice for Massachusetts.

If the campaign takes that certification step, the measure would be put on the 2020 ballot.

Due to inaccurate information provided to the Globe, an earlier version of this story included a wrong statistic. Advocates for ranked voter choice filed with the state 31,029 more certified signatures than is required at this stage of the campaign.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald.