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The Daily Free Press speaks to Elizabeth Warren on college affordability, ranked choice voting

Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Democratic National Committee’s IWillVote Gala Thursday. GABRIELA HUTCHINGS/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Daily Free Press interviewed Democratic presidential contender and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, during which the candidate talked about why she thinks she is the best choice for Boston University students and whether she supports implementing ranked-choice voting.

Our reporters talked with Warren after the Democratic National Committee’s IWillVote fundraising gala in Boston on Thursday. Specifically, Warren spoke on her plan to make college affordable for all Americans and explained why young voters should choose her as the Democratic nominee next year.

In the ranked-choice voting system, voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots, according to Ballotpedia. The idea has gradually gained supporters including presidential candidate Andrew Yang and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who campaigned for New York City’s adoption of the voting system this past November.

Ranked-choice voting has already been enacted in parts of Massachusetts, including Amherst, Easthampton and Warren’s neighborhood of Cambridge. In the 2018 primaries, Maine became the first state in the U.S. to implement ranked-choice voting.

Read the transcript of our interview with Warren below. Excerpts have been edited for clarity.

Tuition at Boston University is $72,000 dollars. Why are you the best presidential candidate to represent college students at Boston University?

Because I believe that it’s time for a wealth tax in America. That would be a 2-cent tax on people who have fortunes above $50 million. That’s the top one-tenth of 1 percent. And with that money, we can reinvest in an entire generation. 

And that means universal childcare and universal pre K and raising the wages of every child-care worker and preschool teacher in America. It means a historic $800 billion investment in public schools. It means making technical school two-year college and four-year college tuition-free. It means leveling the playing field and putting $50 billion into historically black colleges and universities. And it means canceling student loan debt for 47 million Americans. It’s about how we build a future in this country and whether or not opportunity is going to be reserved just for those born into privilege, or if it’s going to be opportunity for everyone.

Your affordable college plan has lots of similarities with that of Senator Bernie Sanders. Why is yours the best plan?

Well, I got it paid for by a 2-cent wealth tax. And it’s about an investment in an entire generation. It starts from little babies and goes all the way through post-high school education and then into college.

How important is the youth vote in the upcoming election?

It’s your future. Climate change threatens every living thing on this planet. And it will your earth where the consequences will be felt most harshly. That’s why we need to attack the corruption in Washington. Anyone who comes to you says they have a climate plan, but they’re not talking about how they’re going to reduce the influence of money and connections in Washington. They’re not serious about getting it done. 

And anyone who isn’t willing to support the repeal of filibusters in Senate is not serious. Because so long as the oil industry and the big polluters are able to keep calling the shots in Washington, we may end up with laws and have great titles, but they won’t get done what we need to get done.

Among my generation, many students are interested in ranked-choice voting. You’ve talked about it before, but are you officially in favor of ranked-choice voting?

I will say the first time I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ We do ranked-choice voting in Cambridge, where I live, and it actually has been a little confusing at first, but we have a lot of candidates and you don’t always know everyone.

Then one piece at a time I’ve come to read more about it, to learn more about it, and I’ve been really impressed with the possibilities. So I have certainly moved that way.

Gabriella Finocchio contributed to the reporting of this article.

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