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Alaska and Massachusetts both have major voting reforms on the ballot this year, including whether to use ranked-choice voting in future elections.
In general, ranked-choice voting means that instead of voting for a single favorite candidate, voters will be asked to order the candidates from most to least preferred. The losing candidates are eliminated and their votes redistributed among other candidates.
Proponents say ranked-choice voting and other alternate voting measures combat the political polarization caused by the dominant “first past the post” voting system, where people are discouraged from voting for a third-party candidate if they have a strong preference between the major-party candidates.
Opponents, however, have warned it could be a logistical headache, though so far the cities and states that have adopted ranked-choice voting (like Maine) have conducted their elections without major problems.
In Alaska, the question of whether to adopt ranked-choice voting is part of ballot initiative Measure 2, which also asks voters whether to abolish party primaries in favor of an open primary where the top two candidates proceed to the general election.
In Massachusetts, the question is on ballot initiative Question 2, which asks voters whether to introduce ranked-choice voting in primaries and general elections for state and federal congressional seats, state executive officials, and county offices.
Should both states adopt the reform, they will become the second and third states to do so. While ranked-choice voting is used in many places around the world, it is not commonplace in the US. But a successful implementation of ranked-choice voting in two more states could change that — encouraging others to begin using a system that has been found to make campaigns more civil, and that may make them more diverse.
Missouri voters have a chance to make changes to their state’s elections as well, with Amendment 3, which would limit campaign contributions to state Senate candidates and prohibit state lawmakers and their staff from accepting gifts from lobbyists. It would also change the makeup of the state’s redistricting commission, moving from a nonpartisan to a bipartisan system.
Redistricting is also at issue in Virginia’s Amendment 1, which would implement a commission to draw legislative districts in that state. Eight seats on the commission would be held by state lawmakers, and the maps would have to be approved by the state legislature, or else they will be drawn by the state Supreme Court — which is currently controlled by Republicans.
And voters in Colorado have the opportunity to advocate for changes to the US election system by joining the National Popular Vote Compact, a multi-state scheme that would effectively neutralize the Electoral College. States joining the compact pledge their electoral college votes to the winner of the popular vote. This means once enough states join that the compact represents 270 or more electoral votes, the Electoral College will be effectively dead.
Colorado has signed on to the compact, but a referendum called Proposition 113 seeks to withdraw the state.
Alaska Measure 2
A yes vote would abolish party primaries in favor of an open primary where the top two candidates proceed to the general election, and would introduce ranked-choice voting in primaries and general elections.
A no vote keeps the current system in place.
Massachusetts Question 2
A yes vote would introduce ranked-choice voting in primaries and general elections for state and federal congressional seats, state executive officials, and county offices.
A no vote keeps the current system in place.
Missouri Amendment 3
A yes vote would limit campaign contributions to state Senate candidates and prohibit lawmakers, and their staff, from accepting gifts from lobbyists. It would also change the state’s redistricting commission from a nonpartisan one to a bipartisan one.
A no vote would mean none of these changes would go into effect.
Virginia Question 1
A yes vote would create an eight-seat commission of state lawmakers and task them with drawing the state’s legislative districts; their maps would have to be approved by the state legislature, or else they will be drawn by the state Supreme Court.
A no vote leaves redistricting in the hands of the state legislature.
Colorado Proposition 113
A yes vote would keep Colorado in the National Popular Vote Compact.
A no vote would remove it from the compact.