NEW YORK, NY (06/12/2019) (readMedia)-- 27 New York City elected officials, including Comptroller Scott Stringer and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and 14 organizations like Eleanor's Legacy and Empire State Indivisible have signed onto two letters to the New York City Charter Revision Commission urging its members to include ranked choice voting (RCV) for all city offices on the November ballot.
TONIGHT, the NYC Charter Revision Commission will hold a final public meeting to vote on which proposals will proceed to the ballot. The Commission listed Ranked Choice Voting on its preliminary staff report. Ranked Choice Voting is a consensus driven system that would allow voters to rank five candidates in order of preference, instead of the existing winner take all model.
From the letter from the elected officials, which is attached:
"As New Yorkers who have run for office, we understand the importance of making sure voters feel confident about their choices come Election Day. While New York has recently made important steps to improve elections by implementing early voting and consolidating election days, we must act further to ensure all New Yorkers have fair access to representative voting."
From the letter from the organizations, which is attached:
"Now more than ever, electoral reform is integral to ensure that every New Yorker's voice is heard, and Ranked Choice Voting is the best way to improve our antiquated electoral system. New York has long been at the forefront of amplifying civic engagement, and as a Commissioner, you have the opportunity to make New York City the model for a more fair and functional democracy."
In the last three election cycles in New York City, sixty-three percent of multi-candidate primaries were won with less than 50% of the vote, 30% were won with less than 40%, and nearly 10% were won with less than 30%. In 2021, close to 70% of the New York City Council members, and all five borough presidents, the Comptroller and Mayor, will be term limited. The New York City Campaign Finance Board is already anticipating the opening of at least 500 campaign committees, which averages to 12 candidates per race.
Ranked choice voting allows voters to express their preferences for a variety of candidates by ranking their first five choices. If on election day when all the first-choices are counted there is one candidate who collects a majority of the vote, that candidate wins. If there's no majority, then the last-place candidate is eliminated and their votes re-allocated according to voter preferences. The process is repeated until there's a majority winner.
Other cities like San Francisco, Minneapolis and Santa Fe and countries like Australia and Ireland have implemented ranked choice voting to revolutionize the way candidates campaign.
"I'm proud to be a part of this coalition to call on the City Charter Revision Commission to include ranked choice voting as one of the proposals on the November ballot. RCV will help avoid costly run-offs and improve the way that candidates' campaign, requiring them to build consensus and to work for every vote, instead of targeting just the small number of voters that they need in order to win. We have made so many critical improvements to our archaic voting laws this year, and this is another key initiative that will help build trust in our democratic system and boost voter turnout," said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon.
"Ranked Choice Voting is the logical and necessary next step for New York City elections," said Council Member Mark Levine. "The current 'winner-take-all' system is outdated and inefficient, and doesn't reflect the will of voters. There is simply no way that the city can continue to rely on an electoral system that sometimes puts candidates into office who have not earned a majority of the support or creates the need for expensive runoffs. The idea is antithetical to the basic tenets of our democracy. The time has come to make our future elections more representative and inclusive by implementing Ranked Choice Voting for the 2021 cycle."
"I urge the Charter Revision Commission to include ranked choice voting for all of our elections in its recommendations for the November ballot. Ranked choice voting has proven effective elsewhere and would make our city's elections more fair and representative of the true will of the people," said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. "Our current winner-takes-all system is flawed and in need of reforms. We should not allow candidates to win races with only a small plurality of the electorate, and we should do all that we can to avoid ridiculously expensive, low turnout run-offs. Allowing voters to rank their preferences on the ballot will ensure that the winner is actually a consensus choice."