The push for ranked-choice voting is gaining momentum in cities across the country, including Boston – where organizers say it will help increase voter turnout in municipal elections.
The system, which allows voters to pick multiple candidates in a race, was rejected in a 2020 statewide ballot – even though it was supported by a majority of Boston voters.
Ranked Choice Boston Executive Director Ed Shoemaker said the system is good for democracy.
“Now you don’t have to vote with your head, right?” said Shoemaker. “You can vote with your heart, in a way that it really expresses how you feel, and what type of leader you want to reflect and lead your community.”
Shoemaker said organizers have built a strong coalition of community groups and lawmakers behind the effort, but opponents of ranked-choice voting say it’s too confusing for voters and can often delay election results.
Local elections tend to have low voter turnout, but Shoemaker said ranked-choice voting would change the idea that votes are “wasted” or that entrenched incumbent candidates can’t be beat.
He said it would also increase diversity among candidates and show younger voters that their voices matter.
“This encourages everybody to run,” said Shoemaker, “because if people vote for you, if people support you, you’re going to win.”
Shoemaker said he’s optimistic his coalition will be successful based on local support.
At least one Boston City Council member must first sponsor a ranked-choice voting measure, which would then require approval from Mayor Michelle Wu before a home-rule petition is submitted to the state legislature.