In New York City, Ranked Choice Voting Puts the People in Charge

Elections are an exercise in the people’s power to choose a government that is representative of its communities and attentive to their needs and interests. We used that power in 2020 to drive state and national change, and this year our local elections offer us another opportunity to exercise our right to determine who our leaders are and what they stand for.

As we work at all levels of government to improve access to our democracy and our voting rights, and to expand access to the right to vote, ranked voting expands the power of voters to guide our leaders based on what the candidates believe and by demanding what we, the voters, need. New Yorkers will be able to exercise this expanded power for the first time in 2021.

With a ranked poll, our city’s voters can vote among the most diverse and talented mayoral fields in history without fear of “spoiler” candidates, split votes, or someone who wins with a fraction of the vote as opposed to a majority.

It also revolutionized our city council races. Candidates who once knew they could win with 35 percent of the vote suddenly have to campaign and talk to everyone everywhere, rather than scoring in one neighborhood. Like-minded candidates come togetherand not against each other, and new racial and ethnic coalitions are forming across the city. If we currently have policies rooted in division, a ranking vote will help promote the policy of addition.

This makes the voters responsible. They can vote for the candidate they want to win without worrying about choosing the candidate they like least, regardless of where their top polls appear in the polls. This not only allows voters to choose the candidates they believe in rather than making the safest bet, it also allows voters to cast new votes in public office.

Ranking electoral votes will not only multiply the impact of our votes and enable us to have more influence on the outcome of our elections. This will fundamentally change the way campaigns are run.

This is because eligibility helps voters negotiate overcrowded candidate fields. It turns a large number of decisions into something empowering rather than sharing. Instead of voting for a candidate, The voters rank their top picks. If someone wins 50 percent, they take office like any other election. If not, the last-seat candidate is eliminated, second-choice votes come into play, and an immediate drain carves down the field until someone crosses that important threshold.

Some reviewers have suggested this is too confusing. They have argued that it harms color candidates and suggested that historically underrepresented voters may not understand how the new ballot works. Now a new one FairVote study Of the nearly 400 ranked local elections across the country since 2004, this shows not only that they are wrong, but also that the opposite is the case.

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