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Massachusetts Ballot Question 2 - Should There Be Ranked Choice Voting?

BOSTON (CBS) -- In Ballot Question 2, voters in Massachusetts this year are deciding whether or not to change the way we vote.

So let's start with the most simple question: What is ranked-choice voting?

You get a ballot with all the candidates listed, and you rank them -- top choice, second choice, and so on.

When the votes are counted, if no one gets a majority, the candidate in last place is out, and those voters' second choices are then distributed to the remaining candidates. That process repeats until someone gets to 50 percent of the votes.

WATCH: Question 2 'Ranked-Choice Voting' Debate

"We support ranked-choice voting because our electoral system isn't working right now," Alex Psilakis told WBZ-TV.

Psilakis is with MassVOTE, a group supporting Question 2 on this year's ballot.

He points out that at least 18 municipalities across the country currently use ranked choice, and Maine now uses it statewide.

The argument is that it makes politics less partisan.,

"Under ranked choice, candidates aren't appealing to the farthest sides of each party; they're aiming for the middle," Psilakis said. "You might not be the first choice of a voter, but you might be a second, you might be a third, and in the end that really makes a difference. So it encourages candidates to appeal to the broadest base possible."

Advocates also argue that ranked choice cuts down on spoiler candidates -- ones who peel off enough votes to change the winner.

Think Ralph Nader in the 2000 presidential election.

"That candidate isn't going to spoil an election; they're not going to take away 5 percent of the vote, because what happens is, whichever candidate has the least amount of support after the first round of voting – they're eliminated.," Psilakis said.

But the "No" side is not convinced by those arguments.

"The ranked-choice voting people often point to one or two elections that they would like to have seen undone, and that's not a reason to change your entire voting system," said Anthony Amore, who ran for Secretary of State in Massachusetts in 2018.

He opposes ranked-choice voting and argues it could actually lead to lower turnout by confusing voters.

"You don't go into a store and rank candies that you've never heard of before, or that you haven't had time to taste," said Amore. "People are busy in their lives; they don't have time to study in depth six, seven or nine candies on a ballot and understand the fine differences between them."

And Amore argues that could turn off voters and lead to more errors -- especially among minority communities.

"We believe it disadvantages people who, for instance, might not speak English as a first language," said Amore. "Some studies have shown that older populations find it more confusing than other populations."

If Massachusetts voters elect to adopt ranked-choice voting, it first takes effect in 2022 and would apply to all races, except for president, county commissioner and regional district school committee members.

Here are some additional resources.

Yes on Question 2 –

No on Question 2 –

Read the Ballot Questions: –

You can also see our report on Question 1 on this year's ballot here

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