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Mixed Results, But No Surprises, On Massachusetts Ballot Questions

Election Day in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.
Karen Brown
Election Day in Turners Falls, Massachusetts.

All eyes have been on the presidential election this November, but Massachusetts voters also had two ballot questions before them, with mixed results.

Question 1, the so-called "right to repair" expansion, passed easily — giving independent repair shops and car owners more access to vehicle data.

Westfield voter Arielle Parento supported the question. She said she believes auto makers and dealers shouldn't be the only ones fixing cars.

"If we give all of that responsibility to them, we're going to have to pay more to get our cars fixed," Parento said. "We're not going to have our own resources to do it ourselves. It's just going be a lot of work for us."

Combined, both sides of Question 1 spent more than $50 million this election.

Panelist Elizabeth Román said she was not surprised by the result.

"I think people will want to get the best deal that they can," she said. "You already feel like you're getting played by the car dealership when you buy the car — and then you have to go back to them to get your car fixed, instead of choosing someone who might give you a better deal."

And Question 2, on whether to bring ranked-choice voting to Massachusetts, went down in defeat. Supporters feel the concept would have generated fairer elections, while some opponents believe it's just too confusing for voters.

Panelist Matt Szafranski said voters seemed confused by what the ballot question meant.

"Historically with ballot questions, when people don't completely understand what is being presented to them, they're more likely to vote no," he said. "And I think that that happened in large margins here."

Szafranski said supporters and opponents of ranked-choice voting also seemed less visible than might have been needed.

"I think most people would be hard-pressed to say what Question 2 was at all, compared to Question 1," he said. "And I think that ultimately, that's a failure of the 'yes' side to completely articulate what it was that they were fighting for, and to be visible enough."

There were also several contested state legislative races, especially in Hampden County. One of them still isn't resolved: In the Massachusetts House 7th Hampden District race, Republican Chip Harrington went to bed Tuesday night thinking he had edged out his opponent, Democrat Jake Oliveira.

But the Associated Press made a correction Wednesday morning, shifting votes to Oliveira, and putting him ahead. Harrington said he's waiting for remaining mail-in ballots to be counted.

The Republican reported that the error was caused by a typo from the town clerk in Belchertown when she sent the results to the AP.

Another legislative race in the general election saw Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez win a state Senate seat. The Democrat beat incumbent Jim Welch in the September primary, and was unopposed in the general election.

Gomez will become the first Puerto Rican state senator in Massachusetts, and just the second Latino.

Finally this week, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker put into place tougher COVID-19 restrictions aimed at slowing a spike in cases. They included closing many businesses at 9:30 p.m., advising residents to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and ordering most people to wear a mask at all times in public.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont also put into place similar measures.


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Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.
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