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September 13, 2023 ·

Last month, a new coalition launched an effort to implement ranked-choice voting in Boston’s municipal elections. Ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting, allows voters to rank candidates on their ballots.

This alternative method of casting votes is already in use in various communities across the country, including here in Massachusetts in Cambridge, Amherst and East Hampton. States like Alaska and Maine use ranked-choice voting for federal elections as well.

Advocates tried to bring this voting method to our state in 2020, but over half of Massachusetts voters rejected a ballot question that would implement it in state elections. But it stands a better shot in Boston: Over 60% of city residents supported the measure.

But first, it’s important to understand exactly how ranked-choice voting works, as it’s a switch from the norm of picking just one candidate. Professor and Chair of Suffolk University’s political science and legal studies department, Rachael Cobb, joined GBH’s All Things Considered host Arun Rath to explain how ranked-choice voting differs from our system today.

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