Sunday, March 22, 2015

Massachusetts Bill Would Add Rank Choice Voting to Presidential Primary Ballots for Military/Overseas Voters

FHQ mentioned this one before, but it was still at the draft stage when the Vermont bill was introduced (and discussed) back in February.

However, the draft bill in Massachusetts to allow instant run-off voting for military and overseas voters has now become introduced on the House side in the General Court. H 609 would allow military personnel and overseas voters to rank their preferences in a presidential nomination race in order to avoid the problem of potential wasted votes. This is a particularly acute problem in a sequential, state-by-state presidential nomination process in which the field continually winnows. Wasted votes are more prevalent in a scenario in which overseas voters make decisions without full certainty about the candidates who are actually in the field at the point on the calendar on which a state primary is due to be conducted.

New Hampshire voters, for instance, would have a full (or fuller) set of candidates to choose from in January/February than Massachusetts voters participating in a March 1 primary. But if one is overseas and voting in advance, one does not have advance knowledge of what the field will look like on March 1 after the first few contests in the carve-out states.

Again, as is the case in the Vermont situation, this is a clever way of overcoming some of the issues attendant to overseas voting in the presidential nomination process.

NOTE: There are at least four other active bills in the Massachusetts House to bring rank choice voting into elections more broadly.

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