New York City To Vote On Ranked Choice Voting. Here's What You Need To Know.

HuffPost Politics 2 weeks ago

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City voters used to picking one candidate per race may soon be marking their ballots for up to five.

A ballot measure in Tuesday’s election would make the city the most populous place yet in the U.S. to adopt ranked-choice voting, an elections system in which voters mark down not only their first choice in a race, but also who they’d prefer to win if their top candidate doesn’t make the cut.

The system, also known as instant-runoff voting, is already used in places including San Francisco , Minneapolis and Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as in Maine. But, if approved, it would be on its biggest stage by far in New York City, where 2.1 million voters cast ballots in last year’s midterm elections.

Backers like the system because it forces candidates to broaden their appeal beyond a narrow base in hopes of being chosen second or third by other voters. It can also reduce the chance that a fringe candidate, deeply disliked by a majority of voters, could triumph in a crowded field.

“Voters hear from more candidates and candidates pay attention to a much broader selection of communities and opinions,” said Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, a good government group that supports the measure.

In this Nov. 6, 2018 file photo, voters read their ballot papers as they wait in line to cast their vote at P.S. 161 in Brook
In this Nov. 6, 2018 file photo, voters read their ballot papers as they wait in line to cast their vote at P.S. 161 in Brooklyn borough of New York.

Critics of the system call it unconstitutional or confusing.

“For me, the headline is that it comes with some additional complexity and that imposes negative costs on voters,” said Jason McDaniel, a political scientist at San Francisco State University who said he would “not be surprised to see a somewhat lower turnout if New York adopts ranked-choice voting.”

The plan up for approval Tuesday would institute the system only in primary elections and special elections for the positions of mayor, city comptroller, public advocate, borough president and City Council. It would start in 2021.

A candidate who wins more than 50% of first-place votes would be declared the winner outright. If no one gets 50%, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated. The votes of the people who favored that eliminated candidate are then transferred to their second-choice candidates, and the vote is counted again. The process continues until one candidate has a majority of votes.

Ranked-choice voting wouldn’t be used in general elections, but in New York that can be a moot point. The city is heavily Democratic, and elections are frequently decided in the primaries.

A win in New York City would be a big victory for a movement that’s seen mixed success nationally.

About a dozen U.S. cities have used ranked-choice voting in certain elections, according to advocacy group FairVote. It’s spreading to at least five more cities including Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Eastpointe, Michigan, in this month’s elections.

Nearly half of state legislatures considered bills concerning ranked-choice voting this year. New Mexico lawmakers passed a law that officially paves the way for the system in local elections.

But such bills have largely stalled or failed at the state level. California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill last month that would have allowed more cities, counties and school districts in California to use the system.

“Where it has been implemented, I am concerned that it has often led to voter confusion, and that the promise that ranked-choice voting leads to greater democracy is not necessarily fulfilled,” Newsom said in his veto message.

Still, supporters have been emboldened by its rollout in primaries and federal races in Maine, where the system first approved by voters in 2016 has survived a legal challenge and skepticism.

In this Nov. 4, 2014 file photo, a voter carries her ballot to be scanned at a polling place in New York's Chinatown neighbor
In this Nov. 4, 2014 file photo, a voter carries her ballot to be scanned at a polling place in New York's Chinatown neighborhood. 

In New York City, the campaign for the ballot initiative has been funded by The Committee for Ranked Choice Voting NYC, Inc., which has raised nearly $2 million, according to state campaign finance reports . That includes over $1 million from nonprofit Action Now Initiative, $500,000 from James and Kathryn Murdoch and $100,000 from Jonathan Soros, a prominent liberal donor and son of billionaire George Soros.

The donations have paid for mailers, Facebook ads and a social media campaign featuring “American President” actor Michael Douglas .

Opposition to the measure emerged in the days leading up to the election from the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, a majority of whose members believe the ranked-choice system may favor white candidates over candidates of color. Some individual members of the caucus disagree and are supporting the measure.

Because it makes the vote count more complex, the system can present challenges for news organizations aiming to announce winners as soon as possible after polls close.

Supporters say the measure could save New York City the trouble and expense of mounting runoff elections, now required in some races if the leading candidate wins less than 40% of the vote.

Also on the ballot in New York on Tuesday are races for an upstate state senator’s job, several county executive and district attorney positions around the state, mayor’s jobs in Yonkers and Mount Vernon and the New York City office of public advocate.


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Newsweek › 2 weeks ago
New York City passed a ballot measure Tuesday that will install ranked-choice voting in the city's elections starting in 2021. It is one of a growing number of places around the world to adopt the voting method.
Fox News › Politics › 2 weeks ago
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang pushed for ranked-choice voting in a tweet Tuesday as New York City voters are deciding on a potential change to the city's constitution that would incorporate ranked-choice ballots in primary and...
The Hill › 2 weeks ago
New York City on Tuesday became the latest and largest city in the nation to adopt ranked-choice voting, which allows voters to rank their top five candidates based on preference.New Yorkers overwhelmingly approved...
The Hill › 2 weeks ago
Former Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein tweeted in support of a campaign to pass ranked choice voting in New York City on Tuesday.The 2016 presidential candidate wrote that passing the measure in T...
New York Daily News › Opinions › 1 month ago
In November, I hope New Yorkers vote down ranked-choice voting, as put forward by the Charter Revision Commission. RCV asks voters to rank their candidate preferences in order rather than voting for one candidate. It might sound compelling at first...
New York Daily News › Opinions › 3 weeks ago
Manhattan: I hope New York City voters vote “yes" for ranked choice voting.
New York Daily News › Opinions › 6 days ago
It was a strange coalition that opposed ranked-choice voting in New York City last week: conservative Republicans and black elected officials. Even stranger was that both groups made the same sorts of arguments, claiming RCV would fuel voter confusion...
Fox News › Politics › 2 weeks ago
New York City voters on Tuesday decided to amend the city’s constitution, restructuring primary and special elections to operate under a new ranked-choice voting system, which allows voters to rank their top five candidates on the ballot according to...
New York Daily News › Opinions › 2 weeks ago
Ballot Question 1 this election season brings us a proposal that would drastically reshape our City Charter and alter its elections process. It’s a proposal for something called ranked-choice voting (RCV), and the only appropriate way to vote is “no.”
Business Insider › Politics › 1 week ago
On Tuesday, New Yorkers voted to implement ranked-choice voting in primary and special elections, allowing them to rank their top five candidates in order of preference. Under a ranked-choice system, voters can rank up to five candidates in order of...
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