City Council Passes Ranked Choice Voting Ballot Simplification Bill!

Leg will build on RCV successes and make ballot more friendly for non-english speakers

NEW YORK, NY (12/08/2022) (readMedia)-- Yesterday, New York City Council Members voted and passed Councilwoman and Government Operations Chair Sandra Ung's legislation that will build on the successes of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and simplify the RCV ballot. New York City voters use RCV – a voting method which allows voters to rank their top five candidates – for municipal primary elections including City Council, Mayor, and Borough President. All City Council members are up for re-election next June.

The Councilwoman's bill will improve the layout of ranked choice ballots by ensuring:

  • ballot instructions have been simplified to be easier to understand, and they appear in black font on a white background
  • contests on the same ballot page are separated from one another using a bold black line
  • non-English text can be easily compared to the corresponding English text
  • each language on the ballot is clearly separated and visually distinct

Common Cause NY, a key founder of Rank the Vote NYC, praised Councilwoman Ung's bill.

"Common Cause/NY is thrilled that the City Council swiftly voted and passed Councilwoman Ung's bill which will build on the successes of Ranked Choice Voting and make the ballot even more voter friendly. Ranked choice voting affords voters more choice and more voice and puts power back in the hands of the people, delivering consensus majority winners every time. We're thrilled the City Council to passed this bill so voters continue to have a smooth experience at the polls in June 2023!" said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and Board Chair of Rank the Vote NYC.

"New Yorkers pulled off the largest Ranked Choice Voting election in the history of the U.S. when they went to the polls in last year's June primary," said Council Member Sandra Ung. "This new law will simplify the ballot and make it easier to understand, encouraging all voters, especially those with limited English proficiency, to take advantage of the opportunity to rank their preferred candidates and strengthen the democratic process. I want to thank my colleagues in the City Council for passing this legislation, and look forward to these common sense ballot changes being implemented in time for the June 2023 primaries."

"Council Member Sandra Ung's legislation focuses on addressing exactly what our community discusses in myriad languages, and that is access. We are grateful that this bill has passed as it affirms to our immigrant communities that this City Council is committed to the franchise of every New Yorker," Asian American Federation Executive Director Jo-Ann Yoo said. "Ranked-choice voting can be a great opportunity for our community members, but only as long as it's implemented with them in mind. This is a step in the right direction and we encourage our Mayor to sign this bill."

"Asian Pacific Americans Voting and Organizing to Increase Civic Engagement (APA VOICE) led extensive multilingual voter education and outreach for New York's first ranked choice voting election in 2021. We welcome the passage of the Ranked Choice Voting Ballot Simplification Bill, which will redesign the ballot for ranked choice voting and make it simpler for voters to cast their ballot next June," said Sandra Choi, Director of Civic Participation at the MinKwon Center for Community Action.

"An overwhelming number of New Yorkers support and enjoy ranked choice voting (RCV) - that's because we all know that it is critical to expand democratic participation. I am thrilled to support Councilwoman Ung's legislation that will make RCV even better for every voter in New York City. I happily vote yes!," said Council Member Shekar Krishnan.

Exit polling conducted by Edison Research during early voting and on Election Day last year confirmed New York City voters love RCV:

  • New Yorkers embraced Ranked Choice Voting at the ballot box.
    • 83% of voters ranked at least two candidates on their ballots in the mayoral primary. The majority of those who opted not to rank did so because they only had one preferred candidate.
    • 72% of voters ranked three or more candidates.
    • 42% of voters maximized their newfound power and ranked five candidates.
  • New Yorkers found Ranked Choice Voting easy to use.
    • 95% of voters found their ballot simple to complete.
    • 78% of New Yorkers said they understood Ranked Choice Voting extremely or very well.
  • New Yorkers want Ranked Choice Voting in future elections.
    • 77% of New Yorkers want Ranked Choice Voting in future local elections.
  • There was little variability between ethnic groups' understanding of ranked choice voting:
  • 77% of Black voters said they understood ranked choice voting
    • 80% of Hispanic voters said they understood ranked choice voting
    • 77% of Asian voters said they understood ranked choice voting
    • 81% of white voters said they understood ranked choice voting
  • New Yorkers across ethnic groups found their ballots simple to complete:
    • 93% of Black voters found their ballot simple to complete.
    • 95% of Hispanic voters found their ballot simple to complete.
    • 97% of Asian voters found their ballot simple to complete
    • 95% of white voters found their ballot simple to complete.