Kamala Harris Wins Brooklyn Watch Party Via Ranked Choice Voting

Bernie Sanders comes in second

NEW YORK, NY (06/28/2019) (readMedia)-- At a watch party last night in Brooklyn, Common Cause/NY demoed a mock ranked choice voting ballot, so voters could rank their top five choices instead of selecting just one winner.

After four rounds of ranked choice voting, Kamala Harris won with 51% and Bernie Sanders came in second at 28%. At Wednesday night's debate, Elizabeth Warren won the ranked choice ballot, receiving 83% of the vote. Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar tied for second with 4% each.

Here are the ballots and instructions for viewers.

In June, the New York City Charter Revision Commission voted to put ranked choice voting on the November ballot, for all city offices for primary and special elections. Technically, it would not include the presidential primary because that is part of the federal system. This ballot is just a demo to allow voters to imagine how ranked choice voting works.

"Ranked choice voting is a simple reform that will revolutionize the way candidates campaign and give voters more options. In a crowded field -- like the one for the Democratic presidential nominee -- many voters may think voting their conscious is throwing away a vote. With ranked choice voting, candidates are encouraged to compete for second and third place allowing voters to select their true choices," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

With ranked choice voting, voters would rank their top five preferences for candidates. 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 great success. Kansas Democrats are using 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 would help create consensus candidates.

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 also launched a website and 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.