There will many Massachusetts city elections this Tuesday, November 5. Voting strategically is one of the only ways average citizens can impact the results.

Most people don't care to spend their hard-earned money on donations to political candidates. Especially when it means that you have to turn down other candidates asking for money or even worse, give additional money to candidates. Donations to political campaigns are public record. Smart candidates use those public records in Massachusetts to solicit donors.

A few $50 donations here, a few $100 donations there, coupled with lots of $15 and $10 donations add up to real money at the end of the year.

There are many people who are willing to put political signs in their yards. That is a great way to influence the voters in an election. It is also a public display of support that can subject the property owner to scorn from the supporters of other candidates. Allowing every candidate to put up a sign is also a fast track to ridiculousness.

But the bullet vote is a foolproof manner to impact a city election.

A bullet or a plunk vote is when a person has the opportunity to vote for multiple candidates in a single election, but only votes for one candidate. In New Bedford, the voters can vote for up to five candidates for the at-large seats on the city council. In Fall River, the entire city council is elected at-large.

By voting for one candidate rather than multiple ones, the bullet voter increases the distance between their favorite candidate and the rest of the pack. Over the years, the bullet voter has had far more of an impact than the donors on the results of elections.

Financial contributions are public record and yard signs are obvious to the public. But a bullet vote for one candidate is secret. Only the voter knows if they voted strategically on Election Day.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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