Massachusetts voters have rejected a ballot initiative to instate ranked-choice voting. Supporters of the measure conceded early Wednesday morning, though the Associated Press had not yet called the race and there were still outstanding votes to be counted.
The change would have applied to elections for most state and federal offices in 2022 and beyond, except for the presidency and in races where there are only two candidates.
By about 2 a.m., 54% of ballots cast opposed the voting system change with about 83% of municipalities reporting results, according to the Associated Press.
The organized campaign behind the question took in nearly $10 million, bankrolled in large part by out-of-state contributors. Despite the expensive effort, advocates conceded via email at about 12:40 a.m. Wednesday.
“We came up short in this election, and we are obviously deeply disappointed,” Campaign Manager Cara Brown McCormick said in the statement. “We were attempting to do something historic in Massachusetts and fell short, but the incredible groundswell of support from volunteers and reformers that assembled behind this campaign is reason enough to stay optimistic about the future of our democracy.”
Opponents of ranked-choice, led by the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, raised less than 1% of the opposing side's total.
Their cause gained two high-profile allies late last month as Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito criticized the measure as one that would “add an additional layer of complication for both voters and election officials,” the pair said in a joint statement.
The state Republican Party also came out against the measure.
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance spokesperson Paul Craney declared almost certain victory in a written statement early Wednesday morning.
“Over 75 percent of the votes have been counted and it can be said with a great deal of certainty that the voters of Massachusetts have rejected Question 2,” said Craney, vowing to release a full statement later.
Massachusetts voters approved Question 1, a proposal crafted to compel auto-makers to relinquish control of all wireless data necessary to repair and diagnose cars beginning with model year 2022, Tuesday evening.
The ranked-choice voting campaign coincided with Jake Auchincloss, the Democratic candidate in the race to replace Rep. Joe Kennedy III’s seat, emerging victorious from a field of nine candidates with less than a third of ballots cast in the September primary. Advocates held up the race as an example of one that would have a different outcome within a ranked-choice system. Auchincloss defeated Republican challenger Julie Hall on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
Maine became the first state to utilize ranked-choice voting for its general election after voters approved it in 2016, then voted against a state legislature delay of the system in 2018.
The Pine Tree State also became the first to use ranked-choice in a presidential election this year.