Ranked Choice Voting, 3 Other Ballot Questions Headed To MA Lawmakers

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BOSTON (AP) — Four questions on their way to next year’s ballot are first heading to state lawmakers to give them a chance to act on the measures before voters weigh in.

Supporters of the four proposed laws have already submitted the signatures of more than 80,239 registered voters required by the Massachusetts Constitution to secure a spot on the 2020 ballot.

The measures would create a “ranked-choice” voting system in Massachusetts, increase funding for the state’s struggling nursing homes, update the state’s right-to-repair law covering car repairs, and allow food stores to sell beer and wine.

Two constitutional amendments were also filed, but supporters failed to collect enough signatures to put them before lawmakers or voters.

Those amendments included proposals that would have allowed the right to vote for people incarcerated on felony convictions. A second measure sought to end public funding for abortions in Massachusetts.

State lawmakers have until May 5 to act on the four initiative petitions that cleared the signature hurdle. In most cases, lawmakers decide not to act, leaving the fate of the questions in the hands of voters.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said any of the four proposals not adopted by lawmakers will continue on to the next round of signature-gathering.

During that round supporters must collect an additional 13,374 signatures to place their questions on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Those signatures must be filed with Galvin’s office by July 1.

Under the proposed “ranked-choice” system, voters have the option of ranking candidates on the ballot in order of their preference — one for their top choice, two for their second choice, and so on.

If a candidate garners a majority of first-place votes, that candidate wins.

If no candidate receives a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice will have their vote count instead for their second choice.

The process repeats until one candidate receives a majority of the vote and wins.

Supporters say the goal is to eliminate the so-called spoiler effect by making sure no candidate wins without a majority of votes. The new system would apply to future state and federal elections and primaries in Massachusetts.

Maine became the first U.S. state to use the system in primary elections last year.

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