Ranked choice voting rejected at the polls

THE POLLING PLACE at the Galvin Middle School gymnasium was a busy place during yesterday’s election. (Mark Sardella Photo)

Published November 4, 2020

WAKEFIELD — Former Vice President Joe Biden and Democratic running mate Kamala Harris scored an impressive win in town during yesterday’s quadrennial election, besting the Republican team of incumbent President Donald J. Trump and Mike Pence 10,170 votes to 6,019.

Of 20,015 registered voters in Wakefield, 16,650 participated either yesterday or during mail-in and early in-person voting.

All results are unofficial.

Nationally, the presidential race had not been decided as of mid-morning and both Republicans and Democrats were threatening court action over the results.

Incumbent US Senator Edward J. Markey also was a decisive victor in this election, besting Republican challenger Kevin J. O’Connor 10,153 to 5,968.

Seth Moulton won in this corner of the 6th Congressional District over John Paul Moran, 10,293 to 5,590. 

The Right to Repair question on the ballot passed easily in Wakefield, 12,355 to 3,348.

Ranked choice voting, ballot Question 2, was rejected by Wakefieldians 9,328 to 6,163.

The town’s results mirror those across the state. 

Biden won Massachusetts and Markey was reelected for another six-year term, for example. 

Massachusetts residents faced a lot of choices: They voted to fill the open seat, approved a statewide ballot question expanding the state’s “right to repair” law, weighed a second ballot question on ranked choice voting and decided whether to reelect some longtime incumbents to Congress. A record number of voters cast ballots early or by mail, changing the complexion of Tuesday’s election.

Markey fended off a challenge from Republican Kevin O’Connor, a lawyer from Dover who’s pitched himself as a candidate who could help clean house in Washington. The 74-year-old Markey has served for decades in Congress, first in the House and later in the Senate.

Markey rebuffed a high-profile primary challenge from Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III in September.

In a live video address Tuesday night, Markey thanked his supporters and vowed to fight for action around climate change, racial justice and immigration reform. He credited the victory in large part to young activists who have organized around progressive ideals.

“Massachusetts voted to affirm our movement’s mandate for change, and I am grateful for that,” Markey said. “The age of incrementalism is over. The time to be timid is over. Now is our moment to think big, build big, be big.”

Biden’s win wasn’t a surprise in a state that has reliably backed Democratic presidential candidates. The only Republican presidential candidate in the recent era to carry the state has been Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

In the state’s 4th Congressional District, the Democratic Newton City Councilor Auchincloss became the newest member of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation by defeating Republican Julie Hall. The open seat was held by Kennedy, who opted not to seek reelection after deciding to challenge Markey.

The 32-year-old Marine Corps veteran narrowly edged out six fellow Democrats in September’s crowded primary.

Voters approved expanding the state’s “Right to Repair” law by giving car owners and independent auto shops greater access to data related to vehicle maintenance and repair.

Car repair shops and auto parts suppliers said the measure would guarantee car owners access to the repair information needed to bring their cars to auto shops. Automakers cast the question as a data grab by third parties who want to gather personal vehicle information.

Tommy Hickey, director of the Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition, credited voters with updating the state’s right to repair law “for the modern age of connected cars.” while opponents said the new measure will “grant real time, two-way access” to cars.

Supporters of a second ballot question that would would make major changes to the way ballots are cast and tallied in future elections in Massachusetts by introducing ranked choice voting conceded defeat early Wednesday. The Associated Press has not called the referendum.

“We came up short in this election, and we are obviously deeply disappointed,” campaign manager Cara Brown McCormick said in a statement.

Under that system, voters would be given the option of ranking candidates in order of their preference — one for their top choice, two for their second choice, and so on.

If no candidate received a majority of the first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes would be eliminated. Voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice would have their votes counted instead for their second choice. The process would repeat until one candidate receives a majority of the vote and wins.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker is among the opponents of ranked choice voting, calling it complicated and costly. Supporters included Democratic U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey.

Four of the state’s remaining eight Democratic House incumbents defeated their Republican challengers.

Rep. Jim McGovern, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, fended off GOP challenger Tracy Lovvorn, while 5th Congressional District Rep. Katherine Clark defeated a challenge from Republican Caroline Colarusso. Former presidential candidate Rep. Seth Moulton, who represents the 6th Congressional District, beat GOP challenger John Paul Moran, while Rep. William Keating, who represents the 9th Congressional District, fended off a challenge from Republican Helen Brady and independent Michael Manley.

Two Democratic incumbents — 1st Congressional District Rep. Richard Neal and 3rd Congressional District Rep. Lori Trahan — ran unopposed. 7th Congressional District Rep. Ayanna Pressley defeated independent Roy Owens to win a second term. 8th Congressional District Rep. Stephen Lynch defeated independent challenger Jonathan Lott.