Big, Diverse Coalition Backs Ranked Choice Voting in NYC

New York Communities of Change, RWDSU, 1199 SEIU, AG Letitia James, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams + many other elected officials of color

NEW YORK, NY (11/01/2019) (readMedia)-- A big, diverse coalition is supporting Ranked Choice Voting in New York City. Ranked choice voting (RCV) is Question 1 on the ballot when voters go to the polls now during early voting or on November 5th.

The campaign has support from many different groups representing communities of color throughout New York City including: New York Communities for Change, 1199 SEIU, RWDSU, CWA, Make the Road, Black Lives Matter, Community Voices Heard, among others.

A diverse swath of elected officials of color also support the measure, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams; Attorney General Lettia James; Borough President Eric Adams; Senators Zellnor Myrie, Robert Jackson, Jessica Ramos, Julia Salazar, Gustavo Rivera, James Sanders Jr; Assemblymembers Ron Kim, You-Line Niou, Catalina Cruz, Walter Mosley; Councilmembers Antonio Reynoso, Rafael Espinal, Ydanis Rodriguez, Carlos Menchaca, Robert Cornegy, Carlina Rivera, and Maya Wiley, former Board Chair of the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

The full list can be found on the Rank the Vote Website.

Just yesterday, Bertha Lewis, President of the Black Institute and Phillipe Cunningham, a Minneapolis Councilmember and a trans man of color, penned an op-ed in the Amsterdam News in support of Ranked Choice Voting, arguing RCV encourages communities of color to run for office by eliminating the spoiler effect.

In a diverse city like New York the "spoiler effect" is a real concern among candidates of color. Ranked Choice Voting prevents the "spoiler effect," and encourages coalition building. Surveys conducted in California found major gains for people of color, increasing representation in majority-minority districts by 17 percent, multi-ethnic districts by 24 percent, and white majority districts by 9 percent. Additionally, according to a study done by Fair Vote, in the four Bay Area cities that use RCV, candidates of color have won 62% of those races, as compared to only 38% prior.

This summer, the Department of Justice (DOJ) even mandated that the city of Eastpointe, Michigan adopt Ranked Choice Voting as a way to help the city's minority voters better elect candidates of choice. Eastpointe, which is only 42% white, had a city council that was 100% white. The DOJ instituted Ranked Choice Voting in Eastpointe as a way to diversify representation on the city council.

Ranked Choice Voting also saves money by eliminating costly run-off elections, like the 2013 Democratic primary run-off for public advocate cost more than $11 million. And voters like it too. A two year study by the Democracy Fund found that voters in cities with Ranked Choice Voting were happier with campaign conduct and experienced less negative campaigning than voters in places that do not. When candidates have to compete to be voters second and third choices, it reduces negative campaigning.

Ranked Choice Voting gives voters the option to rank their top five candidates in local New York City primary and special elections. If voters still want to vote for just one candidate, they can. A candidate who collects a majority of the vote, fifty percent plus one, wins. If there's no majority winner, then the last place candidate will be eliminated and the second choice votes for that candidate are redistributed. The process is repeated until there is a majority winner.


Other cities like San Francisco, Minneapolis and Santa Fe, and countries like Australia and Ireland have implemented ranked choice voting to great success. Maine will use ranked choice voting to select their presidential nominee.

Most candidates win crowded elections in New York City by campaigning to their base, and fail to get a majority. With ranked choice voting, candidates will be forced to campaign to the broader electorate in the hopes of being ranked second or third. Ranked choice voting helps create consensus candidates with majority support.

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.

In early April, Common Cause/NY released a new analysis that builds on a previous report -- The Case for Ranked Choice Voting in New York City -- which quantifies the prevalence of multi-candidate primaries in the last three election cycles in NYC.

The study found:

  • Over the last three election cycles, the average number of candidates ranged from 4 to 5.
  • Over the last three election cycles, less than 15% of multi-candidate primaries with 4 or more candidates produced majority support winners.
  • In 2013, the last primary election cycle with a wave of open seats, no race with 4 or more candidates produced a majority support winner.