Top mayoral candidate admonishes new voting system amidst efforts to delay it

Eric Adams, President of the Brooklyn borough, announced that the Barclays Center will be an early voting venue in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York on Tuesday, September 1, 2020. The early voting will take place from October 24th to November 1st at the Sports and Entertainment Center. (AP Photo / Mark Lennihan) | Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

A senior mayoral candidate has joined a growing movement to stem the debut of an electoral system that ranked political candidates, warning that it is “disenfranchising” black and Latin American voters and is in the hands of a notoriously dysfunctional electoral committee.

Brooklyn District President Eric Adams admonished the introduction of so-called ranked voting this week as he prepared to announce his own bid to succeed Bill de Blasio as Mayor of New York City.

“Everyone knows that with every shift you add to the process, you lose black and brown voters and participation,” Adams said in an interview Tuesday. “We cannot have disenfranchised these voters.”

A first proponent of politics, which voters mostly supported in 2019Adams expressed a change of heart just as lawmakers ponder laws to stop them and a civil rights organization ponders legal action. Lots who was against the change After this was proposed last year, the pandemic and ongoing errors by the city electoral authority are now cited as reasons for the delay.

Some opponents target the city’s democratic party machines, whose power over local elections would likely be diminished by ranked voting, in which voters list candidates in order of preference rather than selecting a single one.

Adams accused the electoral board of slow-moving efforts to educate voters about the new policy – despite an official involved in the rollout defending plans to wait for the 2020 presidential election to close to begin public relations to voters not to confuse.

“The more barriers and layers you put in place, the more you will hurt those who have English as a second language and those who are from minorities,” said Adams.

Ranked voting has long been a target for government reform groups who believe they would deter negative campaigns while avoiding low-turnout runoffs and choosing candidates who win with only a small group of voters. Supporters say Studies from California have shown that post-election voting increases the chances of non-white candidates.

Next year, New Yorkers can place up to five people in the city’s area codes. If neither gets more than 50 percent, the last place finisher will be disqualified and the voters who selected that person will have their next choice counted. The ranking will continue until a winner is announced.

A commission hired by city council spokesman Corey Johnson to investigate the city charter last year concluded that the policy would remove the effects of spoiler races and encourage candidates to fight beyond their intended base to finish second .

Johnson was a candidate for mayor at the time, and people close to him said he believed this would help his candidacy.

“It is clear that New Yorkers are hungry for more inclusive democracy, and dissatisfied communities in particular can really be empowered by voting in a ranked election,” said Rose Pierre-Louis. who sits on the board of the Committee for Ranked-Choice Voting NYCsaid in a prepared statement.

Pierre-Louis also supports the candidacy of City Comptroller Scott Stringer, whose strategy for victory is based on the novel voting system.

She predicted voters could adjust in time for the mayor’s primary election next June, as well as the advent of early voting this month, and urged the city not to hesitate.

However, several plans are in the works to roll back the introduction of priority voting, which will take effect in an off-cycle election for a seat on the city council in February.

The City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus is now calling on Johnson to postpone the roll-out of the voting system indefinitely, arguing that the electoral board cannot manage the rollout in a timely manner. This emerges from a previously unreported letter signed by 15 members of the city council group and sent to Johnson Friday.

“We have no confidence in BOE’s ability to get voters used to a system of ranked-choice voting, especially in a compressed timeframe that is already constrained by the pandemic due to the miserable current account,” said Co-Chair I. Daneek Miller and Adrienne Adams wrote. Both represent Southeast Queens, an area rich in committed voters and one that Eric Adams has been courting for years.

The letter accuses the Chamber of “embarrassing incidents that many New Yorkers rightly feel related to voter suppression,” namely a series of errors in postal ballot papers this fall and hours of waiting for voters to open early. Seniors and people with disabilities received “confusing instructions” from election officials at times, they said.

Miller said he was urging the speaker to legislate to delay the rollout. He argued that it would be structurally similar to the Council’s 2008 bill to lift the term restrictions that voters approved in an earlier referendum.

Despite leading the initiative, Johnson declined to comment on the delay efforts.

Others who make fun of a ranking vote are weighing the possibility of legal action.

Kirsten John Foy, who founded the civil rights organization Arch of Justice and previously worked for Rev. Al Sharpton and is one of those interested in filing a lawsuit.

“This is the wrong environment to equip a known, reliable system – if not perfect – with an unknown, untested and consequently unreliable system,” said Foy in an interview.

He cited arguments that ranking black and Latin American candidates was “a shell game,” and said politics would encourage candidates to focus more on politics horse racing.

“If someone is elected who is not supported by a majority, how do you justify that?” he added.

A lawsuit would likely invoke federal voting rights, arguing that candidates favored by color communities perform worse under the new system and effectively water down their votes, according to Mark Peters, an attorney approached by Foy and in his board sits. These types of legal action typically involve months of preparation and detailed study of past elections here or in other cities that are already ranked, such as San Francisco. who elected her first black mayor with this system.

A ranked election would weaken the power of the political parties that appoint the city’s 10 election commissioners and play a role in controlling the results of local elections. They often select party loyalty to run for office, help fund their campaigns, and are known to try to knock opponents out of the election.

It is not lost on the county machines that doing so would weaken their hold on the process.

“In my view, this is being done to undermine the party system,” said Patrick Jenkins, a political advisor with ties to the Bronx and Queens Democratic parties, in a recent interview.

“African Americans fought in this city, were the backbone of the Democratic Party and we worked hard to achieve this through representation and equality of party structure,” he said. “We’ve spent all these years sticking to the rules.”

Four of the city’s five democratic organizations are run by black lawmakers. This is the result of decades of political loyalty among voters who often determine results in city races.

Some black candidates questioned Jenkins’ argument.

“They are using race as a narrative to try to mess up reality. This is an advantage for voters, color candidates, and anti-establishment candidates,” said Brandon West, a city council candidate backed by America’s Democratic Socialists .

Stringer clearly disagreed with any action to stop it.

“Is he in favor of supporting a reform measure that voters have already passed? Do you bet? Said Stringer spokesman Tyrone Stevens.

Another mayoral candidate, Maya Wiley, was a vocal advocate of the policy, along with a Laundry list by local officials.

The electoral board says its machines can and will handle the new voting system Week issued a call for contractors who could provide software for automatic tabulation of votes. The board expects to formalize this contract in January.

Public relations work has already started despite concerns that the city does not have enough time to train voters and candidates.

Rank the Vote NYC, an umbrella organization, has conducted more than 20 training courses for candidates and employees. Another outreach service will begin electoral education on December 2nd.

The city’s Campaign Finance Board, which is responsible for running the electoral work, said it was on schedule.

“The 2020 vote was confusing enough for voters. Adding a post-polling awareness campaign that only applies to local elections starting in 2021 would have only created more confusion, ”Finance Committee spokesman Matt Sollars said in a statement.

Shaun Donovan, who is running for mayor, included the ranked election in a 29-page campaign that he distributed to potential supporters. This reads: “Shaun’s broad appeal makes him a natural second and third choice for voters, even if they are already committed to another candidate. “

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