Submitted by Madeleine Kando
The reason we vote is to influence our government. It is the foundation of a Democracy. But our current voting system lets a candidate win with a minority, which lets a small portion of the electorate decide for everyone else.
With Ranked Choice Voting, the winner MUST receive a majority. If not, voting continues in a second round where voters’ second and third choices are counted. This continues until there is a majority winner.
One of the arguments against using RCV in Bedford is that there are very few contested elections, which makes RCV superfluous.
But that proves the need for RCV. Having too few candidates robs people of choices, so they don’t vote. They don’t vote, so the system has no reason to provide more options. It’s a vicious circle. Ranked Choice Voting encourages candidates to run, since there is no fear of the spoiler effect.
A majority of Bedford residents (51.7%) voted for Ranked Choice Voting in 2020. Since then, seven sister communities: Acton, Amherst, Arlington, Brookline, Concord and Lexington and Northampton have sent RCV home rule petitions to the Statehouse, waiting for approval.
Should Bedford wait till the surrounding towns get their bills out of the legislature and then put an RCV petition on the town warrant? Should Bedford be a follower or a leader? One way to get things unstuck in the legislature is to have a groundswell of municipalities submit petitions. This groundswell should include Bedford.
In 2020, only 22.3% of registered voters in Bedford went to the polls to elect local officials. RCV encourages more diverse candidates to run. People participate when there’s competition. If your choice is that there’s no choice, then why even vote?
In local politics it is often who you know and who is better at projecting a public image that will get you elected. However, popular candidates do not always represent minorities or the less affluent. With RCV, the less connected, less well-known candidate still could go on the ballot.
RCV would be a more democratic and representative way of voting. If we want to go national, we have to start local. Bedford will have a chance to vote on RCV this fall. Will you join us for a more vibrant, representative Bedford? For more information please visit: https://www.bedfordrcv.org.