THE RANKED-CHOICE voting ballot campaign has been pushing its message for months with only minimal, informal opposition.
Now, with two months left before the election, an organization is finally forming to oppose ranked-choice voting, with the earliest supporters coming from the conservative wing of Massachusetts politics.
As CommonWealth reported, an opposition committee was formed with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance on August 31, chaired by Cheryl Longtin of Westford. The group’s treasurer, Patricia Chessa, referred questions to Longtin. Longtin, who has been involved with the Westford Republican Town Committee, didn’t return calls.
But Anthony Amore, a Republican who ran for secretary of state unsuccessfully in 2018, returned a call for her. Amore said the committee is still being organized and more information will be available in another week or two.
Amore, director of security and chief investigator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, said he personally has long opposed ranked-choice voting. He said polls repeatedly show that, even in high-profile races, many voters are unfamiliar with the candidates.
Ranked-choice voting proponents point to the recent 4th Congressional District Democratic primary as a poster childfor ranked choice voting – seven candidates split the vote in a generally liberal field, leading to the victory of the most moderate candidate with less than 23 percent of the vote.
But Amore said the race illustrates the problems with ranked-choice voting. “I follow politics very closely and I can’t name all the people who ran. I definitely can’t tell you the differences between them,” Amore told CommonWealth. “To go in and say I’m going rank these eight people…the difference between them was razor thin, it becomes a guessing game.”
Asking voters to rank candidates in order of preference, Amore said, “sounds beautiful in a mathematical equation but practically speaking it’s disastrous.”
Amore appeared on the GBH show “Greater Boston” Wednesday as a representative of the campaign against ranked-choice voting and said similarly, “People don’t go into the voter booth with a heck of a lot of information.”
Also involved in the opposition is Paul Craney, a spokesperson for the conservative Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance — a group that does not disclose its donors and has faced scrutiny over whether its political activities trigger disclosure laws. Craney has been speaking out against ranked-choice voting since late 2019 and helped organize opponents to testify at a State House hearing.
Craney said Thursday that the ballot committee is still being formed. He does not anticipate Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance taking a role, although some board members – like Jennifer Braceras, the director of the Independent Women’s Law Center, who penned a Boston Globe op-ed on the topic — could speak out individually.
Craney said the No on 2 campaign “is not going to be as glamorous as Yes on 2, which is funded by national groups,” but will be a Massachusetts-based effort.
Of $4 million raised so far by the pro-ranked-choice voting committee, only $600,000 comes from Massachusetts donors. The Action Now Initiative, a Texas-based political advocacy group created by liberal donors John and Laura Arnold, contributed $2.3 million.
But the group, whose board is led by former gubernatorial candidate Evan Falchuk, does have prominent, bipartisan Massachusetts supporters, including former governors Deval Patrick and Bill Weld; former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey; former Harvard president Lawrence Summers; Boston Celtics managing partner Steve Pagliuca; voting rights activists like Cheryl Clyburn Crawford and Pam Wilmot; and well-connected political figures like former Boston housing chief Charlotte Golar Richie, Segun Idowu of the Black Economic Council, and Eva Millona of MIRA.
Although the opponents so far lean conservative, Craney said the committee is not yet formed, and his phone has been flooded with calls from Republicans and Democrats who oppose ranked-choice voting. “It’s not a partisan issue, it’s really not an ideological issue. The question is do we want to get rid of the current system in favor of another?” Craney said.