Bertha Lewis: "Black voters are not stupid. It's insulting to say that they won't be able to understand RCV"
"It is time to stop raising groundless fears about RCV and get to work and help educate New York City voters about Ranked Choice Voting"
NEW YORK, NY (12/09/2020) (readMedia)-- On Monday, Bertha Lewis, the Founder and President of the Black Institute, submitted testimony to the New York City Council about Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) ongoing voter education and implementation. In her testimony she argues ranked choice voting does not disenfranchise voters, but enfranchises them.
Below is her testimony:
"I am Bertha Lewis, the Founder and President of the Black Institute, an 'action tank' whose mission is to shape intellectual discourse and dialogue and impact public policy uniquely from a Black perspective. The Black Institute is a strong supporter of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and we oppose any attempt to override the will of the voters in New York City and put off its implementation. New York City voters want choices and they want to be able to rank their choices. RCV gives them that power.
From my decades of experience registering, engaging and educating black voters I strongly object to the comments that I have heard that Black voters will not be able to understand and use RCV. Let me say it plainly: Black voters are not stupid. It is insulting to say that they will not be able to understand Ranked Choice Voting.
RCV doesn't disenfranchise voters – it enfranchises them. I've spent years knocking on doors, talking to ACORN members and voters, and I can tell you that voters look for different qualities from many different candidates. It can be hard to balance all of the different factors from different candidates. In fact, a number of people end up not voting in crowded races because they can't decide who to vote for among several candidates they like. RCV empowers voters to make sense of crowded fields. It works for Black voters – just as it works for all voters. It is not just a white progressive idea, as experience in cities like Oakland, Berkeley and Minneapolis, where Black candidates have successfully run with RCV and diversified their city councils, makes clear. While it is terrific that there are so many candidates running in June, all voters – Black voters included – will be grateful to be able to use RCV to make sense of so many people running.
I don't buy the argument that we can't educate voters about RCV because of the pandemic. I think it is just an excuse that opponents of RCV are using. We not only had record high voter turn-out during a pandemic, we successfully educated hundreds of thousands of voters on how to vote absentee and where to vote early. The June primary is more than 6 months away. There is plenty of time for voters to learn to rank their vote – applying something they do every day without thinking about it - to the election. It is time to stop raising groundless fears about RCV and get to work and help educate New York City voters about Ranked Choice Voting."