Everything You Need to Know About the 2020 Massachusetts Ballot

Esther Cull-Kahn and Jack Keane

Whether you are eligible to vote or not, it’s important that you know what’s going to be on the 2020 Massachusetts ballot this November. In addition to the presidential election, the ballot serves to elect a Massachusetts Representative and Senator in the United States Congress. Additionally, the ballot will include two questions that will potentially affect state policy. Each question has received hundreds of thousands of signatures that qualify them as a state-wide issue to be voted on, and the questions vary depending on each state.

Whether you are eligible to vote or not, it’s important that you know what’s going to be on the 2020 Massachusetts ballot this November.

Candidates for President:

Joe Biden (D): Joe Biden is the 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate and a former Vice President of the United States. Some of Biden’s policy positions include reversing the Trump Administration’s immigration policies, protecting and building on the Affordable Care Act, advancing sustainable agriculture, and securing environmental justice and an equitable economy. Biden, while considered to be moderate in comparison to former Democratic presidential candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, offers a perspective that falls considerably further left than the current administration.

Donald Trump (R): Donald Trump’s bid for re-election is focused on the economy, jobs, immigration, and foreign policy. He currently faces the challenge of convincing Americans that he has been successful in helping the nation through the current economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As election day approaches, Americans are watching intently to see how President Trump attempts to secure a second term in office.

Candidates for the House of Representatives:

Katherine Clark (D): Katherine Clark is the Democratic incumbent running for the position of a representative in Congress. Some of her views are supporting the pro-choice movement, raising taxes for the rich, increasing clean energy, reducing US military involvement in the Middle East, and other positions generally shared by the Democratic Party. 

Caroline Colarusso (R): Caroline Colarusso is Clark’s Republican challenger for the Congressional seat. A couple of her positions include being pro-life, supporting school choice legislation, and endorsing an impartial government. Clark has not released her perspective on the majority of other relevant issues, but she is likely to align with the general opinions of the Republican Party. 

Candidates for the Senate:

Ed Markey (D): Ed Markey is running for re-election to the United States Senate. Markey is a progressive Democrat and is popular in Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District (where he is from). He is best known for his collaboration with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to introduce the Green New Deal: a resolution that would create millions of high-wage jobs in the United States and counteract systemic injustices, while also addressing the crisis of climate change.

Kevin O’Connor (R): Kevin O’Connor is the Massachusetts Republican candidate for the United States Senate. Some of O’Connor’s stances include his opposition to defunding the police, his endorsement of the Second Amendment, and his support of strong borders.

Question 1:

Question one relates to motor vehicle mechanical data. The proposed law would allow owners of motor vehicles such as cars, vans, or motorcycles to access the wireless mechanical data of their vehicle. In addition, independent repair facilities would also be able to receive this information. Supporters of the bill believe that the change would allow independent repair facilities to receive an equal opportunity to fix cars and not continue to be overpowered by chain dealerships. The opposition of the bill is rooted in the fear of an invasion of privacy, founded on the belief that the wireless release of information would result in a breach of privacy. A vote yes on the bill would enforce these changes, permitting owners and repair facilities to gain the mechanical information of their vehicle wirelessly and with more ease. A vote no would not change the laws relating to wirelessly transmitted data. 

Question 2:

Question two is associated with ranked choice voting (RCV), a voting method in which voters rank candidates in order of their preferences. Voting yes on question two would enact RCV in primary and general elections for state executive officials, state legislators, federal Congressional representatives, and some county offices. Under RCV, the candidate who receives greater than 50% of all first-preference votes wins the election, ending the tabulation. In the event that no candidate secures a simple majority of first-preference votes, the candidate receiving the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated. Consequently, the second-preference choices indicated on the previous ballots are tallied as their first-preference in the following round. This process is repeated until one candidate wins a simple majority of the vote. In the event of a tie for last place, those candidates’ support from earlier rounds shall be compared to determine who should be eliminated. Cambridge is currently the only city in Massachusetts using RCV, having implemented the system in 1941. A vote no on Question two would maintain Massachusetts’ current voting system of semi-closed primaries, in which unaffiliated voters may vote in the primary of their choice and voters who already affiliate with a political party can vote only in that party’s primary. A benefit of RCV is that the people are given more choices when voting. Additionally, this system promotes majority support, meaning that candidates must receive a simple majority of votes in order to win, as opposed to a system such as the electoral college. One disadvantage of RCV is that it does not necessarily represent all voters. For example, if someone does not rank each candidate on their ballot, and whoever they vote for is eliminated, their ballot is not counted in the final vote.