I spent much of the past year running in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary. Three weeks before the election, we had great grassroots momentum, and a poll showed us statistically tied for third in the nine-person field.

Days later, I made one of the hardest decisions of my life: I suspended my campaign to coalesce support behind my friend Jesse Mermell, the progressive candidate I thought best positioned to win and represent our District.

Why? Because we don’t have ranked-choice voting in Massachusetts. But now, we can fix that by voting Yes on Question 2.

Jake Auchincloss won the 4th District primary with about 23 percent of the votes cast. Despite our differences, I congratulate him on that achievement. However, I think it should concern all of us that 77 percent of voters— more than three out of every four who voted—cast their ballot for a different candidate.

So how might ranked-choice voting have helped?

Under a ranked-choice voting system you can still vote for just one candidate, or you can rank your first choice, your second choice, your third choice, and so on.

If one candidate receives a majority of first-place votes, that candidate wins. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the secondary choice on their voters’ ballots are counted. This process continues in a series of rounds until one candidate gains a majority, which more closely represents the true desires of the community.

There are additional benefits as well. When I dropped out, many voters had already returned mail-in ballots. Ranked-choice voting would have captured their secondary preferences. Importantly, studies show ranked-choice voting leads to more diverse fields, encouraging women and people of color to run for office without fear of splintering votes. It also discourages negative campaigning, incentivizing candidates to compete for voters' second or third choice votes.

Of the nine of us running at the beginning of August, a number shared similar progressive values, from supporting a $15 minimum wage to passing a Green New Deal. Many of us genuinely became friends during the course of the campaign.

We’ll never know what would have happened if ranked-choice voting existed in the 4th District race. Maybe the outcome still would have been the same, but I’m skeptical.

In thousands of conversations over 10 months, I spoke to countless voters across the District who would have been happy with many of the candidates, but for various reasons felt that they didn’t want Jake Auchincloss to represent them.

This is why I believe no one should win an election with 23 percent of the vote. My view is not determined by one candidate or even one race.

In the Third Congressional District in 2018, Representative Lori Trahan emerged from a 10-candidate Democratic primary with less than 22 percent of the vote. More troublingly, last year 61 percent of voters in Fall River chose to recall indicted Mayor Jasiel Correia, yet he remained Mayor by securing just 35 percent of the vote in a crowded runoff election.

By contrast, the state of Maine has already enacted ranked-choice voting, which in 2018 allowed Democrat Jared Golden to beat an incumbent Congressional Republican thanks to receiving more second-choice votes from people who supported independent candidates in that race. The city of Cambridge has used ranked-choice voting for local elections since the 1940s, and five states used it for the Democratic presidential primary this year.

Voters shouldn’t have to know game theory when filling out their ballot, and candidates shouldn’t have to extrapolate from a few polls and drop out to avoid acting as spoilers. But so long as we have a winner-take-all system, this will keep happening.

Ranked-choice voting alone will not fix every challenge in our democracy. We need to end unaccountable dark money and SuperPAC spending and overturn the disastrous Citizens United decision. We need to pass a host of new voting reforms, from fully funding the Postal Service, to passing the House bill known as H.R. 1 and the new John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act, and combating the combination of systemic racism and voter suppression that keep our elections from being truly democratic.

Implementing ranked-choice voting by casting a ballot for Yes on 2 is a good place to start.

Dave Cavell is a former candidate for Congress in the Massachusetts’ 4th District Democratic Primary. Dave is a former Assistant Attorney General to Maura Healey, as well as a former speechwriter in the Obama White House.