Perils of plurality on display in 19th Suffolk District primary
A paradox of our current plurality system of voting is that the more candidates who run to represent a community or interest group, the greater the risk of splitting their votes. In other words, the community with the most political energy is penalized.
In the March 4 Metro section of the Globe, Emma Platoff (“Primary sparks ranked-choice voting debate”) and Yvonne Abraham (“Out of step with the party”) document the loss of two progressive candidates, Juan Jaramillo and Alicia DelVento, to a conservative Democrat, Jeff Turco, in the 19 Suffolk District Democratic primary. Had there been ranked-choice voting, one of the progressives probably would have won. Together, their votes vastly outnumbered Turco’s.
Currently in Boston, with a crowded race to replace Mayor Martin Walsh, we have an outpouring of political enthusiasm, as in 2013 when multiple candidates of color split the vote and two white men advanced to the mayoral run-off election. Today, progressives are coming together to clarify criteria for choosing candidates to try and avoid what happened in 2013.
There is not enough time to go through the legal steps of bringing ranked-choice voting to Boston, a city that supported it in last year’s defeated statewide ballot question; however, I would argue that progressives should support only candidates who are committed to bringing ranked-choice voting to Boston in the next administration.
A majority of voters speaks — and goes unheard — again
Jeff Turco, a former Donald Trump supporter, has just won the Democratic primary to replace Robert DeLeo with only 36.2 percent of votes cast. The majority of voters apparently supported more progressive candidates.
Last year, Jake Auchincloss won the Democratic primary for the Fourth Congressional District with 22.4 percent of votes cast. The majority of voters apparently supported more progressive candidates.
In 2013, Martin Walsh and John R. Connolly, both white men in a majority minority city, won the Boston mayoral preliminary election with 18.5 percent and 17.2 percent, respectively, of votes cast.
This is not meant in any way to cast aspersions on the winners of those elections. However, we now have an increasingly crowded field of excellent candidates in the Boston preliminary election for mayor. It is time for Boston to consider ranked-choice voting, which would ensure that the results more closely reflect the wishes of the voters.