Ranked-Choice Voting | Dave Cavell for Congress

Ranked-Choice Voting

I’m running in the MA-04 Democratic primary against 9 other candidates. In a race like mine, I could conceivably win the primary with 20% of the share of Democratic primary voters.

Because this is considered a “safe” Democratic seat, it’s likely that I could win the general election comfortably, making me the next member of Congress with only a fraction of the public having voted for me. I hope I win on September 1, but I also hope I’m one of the last people ever elected this way.

It’s time to change this system. It’s time to change how we vote in this country. The current, winner-take-all voting system that I just described, in which a candidate can win with a tiny plurality of votes, simply won’t cut it anymore; our voting system as it stands encourages polarization, discourages third-party or first time candidates, and often leads to profoundly undemocratic outcomes.

That’s why I’m standing in support of a ballot measure, right here in Massachusetts, to switch to a system of “ranked-choice voting” or “RCV.”

The process of ranked-choice voting is simple: you cast your vote for the candidates on the ballot in order of your preference. If no one receives a majority (more than 50% of votes), then the person with the lowest number of votes is eliminated, and that eliminated candidate’s second choice votes are redistributed among the others in the field. This process continues until one of the candidates achieves a 50% majority and is declared the winner.  

Ranked-choice voting achieves the most important goal in elections–winners actually have the broadest base of support from voters who cast ballots.  

Ranked-choice voting also addresses other major problems we currently have with our election system: slash-and-burn negative politics and attack ads. RCV disincentivizes negative campaigning because it encourages candidates to seek support from “second choice” voters.

Lastly, it encourages democratic participation of voters and candidates alike. Candidates can enter races without being perceived as “spoilers” to more viable candidates. And voters can exercise their actual preferences rather than trying to vote “strategically” to avoid vote splitting.

The Fourth District Congressional race that I’m running in is a perfect example of why we need ranked-choice voting. In a field of [9?] candidates, any one of us could potentially win with as little as 20% of the total votes cast. In a race with multiple progressive candidates, that means the progressive vote could be split multiple ways, and a more conservative candidate, whose views are at odds with the vast majority of the district, could win by consolidating a relatively small base of support. This situation is exactly what RCV would prevent. A system of RCV would ensure that the progressive ideals of the 4th District would be reflected in the candidate that voters choose.

I am proud to stand with a growing number of individuals, advocacy groups, states, and municipalities that support RCV. Maine as well as many cities across the country like Cambridge, MA have adopted RCV in the past couple decades, showcasing its widespread support. Some of the notable Massachusetts supporters include U.S. Representatives (and hopefully colleagues!) Jim McGovern, Lori Trahan, and Seth Moulton, State Representative Andy Vargas, The League of Women Voters, Common Cause Massachusetts, Amplify Latinx, Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts, the Young Democrats of Massachusetts. 

If elected to Congress, I will be a champion for this issue. I support House Bills HR 4464, HR 4000, and HR 6010 dealing with RCV in House and Senate elections as well as in state and local transitions to RCV. I would also support a Constitutional Amendment to implement RCV in our Presidential elections.