New Yorkers Say "Yes!" to Ranked Choice Voting

Broad, diverse coalition celebrates victory for New York City elections

NEW YORK, NY (11/05/2019) (readMedia)-- Tonight, voters across New York City voted overwhelmingly in favor of ballot question one - which establishes Ranked Choice Voting. 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. New York City is the now the largest jurisdiction in the United States with Ranked Choice Voting - a system that allows voters to rank their top five candidates. Voters can still vote for one person if they like.

Ranked Choice Voting, will go into effect in 2021 and apply to primaries and special elections for all local offices: City Council, Borough President, Comptroller, Public Advocate and Mayor.

"Common Cause/NY kicked off 2019 by passing early voting and a whole host of revolutionary voting rights reforms, and tonight, we're ending the year the same way with Ranked Choice Voting! Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is the simple solution that puts power back in the hands of the people where it belongs. We look forward to working with our diverse partners and elected officials to educate New Yorkers on how this important reform will work in the local 2021 elections and beyond," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

Ranked Choice Voting is a common sense reform that ensures winners receive a majority of the vote, saves taxpayer money, and gives voters more choice and more voice in elections. Since the campaign began, Ranked Choice Voting has been endorsed by the New York Times, New York Daily News and Crain's New York as well as dozens of elected officials including former Mayor David Dinkins, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, State Senators Zellnor and Jessica Ramos, Assemblymembers Ron Kim and Catalina Cruz, Councilmebers Ydanis Rodreguiz and Antonio Reynoso.

The Steering Committee for the Committe for Ranked Choice Voting NYC includes (affiliation for identification purposes only):

  • Maya Wiley, University Professor, The New School
  • John Park, Executive Director of MinKwon Community Action center
  • Annetta Seecharran, Executive Director of Chhaya CDC
  • Jessica Walker, President, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce
  • Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President, NY Board of Rabbis
  • Ravi Gupta, Co-Founder/Partner, Arena
  • Stuart A. Shorenstein Partner, Cozen O'Connor
  • Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President
  • Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union
  • Yosef Rapaport, Media consultant
  • Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY
  • Zellnor Myrie, NYS Senator

Read the complete list of endorsements here.

Ranked Choice Voting ensures that every winner of an election receives a majority of the vote. This is a major concern in New York City where candidates routinely win with less than 50%. A Common Cause/NY 2019 study found that 64 percent of multi-candidate primaries were won with less than 50 percent of the vote, and not a single race with 4 or more candidates produced a majority winner. The New York City Campaign Finance Board is estimating that nearly 500 candidates will open campaign accounts in 2021, when 70% of the City Council will be term limited, as well as all five borough presidents, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mayor Bill de Blasio. These will be incredibly crowded races, with at least 12 candidates per city council seat. Voters will have tough decisions to make. In a crowded field, Ranked Choice Voting is even more important to ensure that as many voters as possible choose the eventual winner.

Ranked Choice Voting also saves money by eliminating costly run-off elections. The 2013 Democratic primary run-off for Public Advocate cost more than $11 million. Voters like RCV 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.

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 will mean more inclusive elections, greater voter empowerment and help our elections better reflect voters' wishes. I encourage all New Yorkers to support Ranked Choice Voting this election cycle," said Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez.

"Traditional winner-takes-all elections polarize candidates, limit the diversity of ideas, and waste taxpayer dollars. Ranked Choice Voting, also called instant-runoff voting, is a more democratic and fiscally responsible election system. We've seen it work from Minneapolis and St. Paul to Oakland and San Francisco. It's past time we adopted it here in New York City," said Attorney General Letitia James.

"Ranked Choice Voting is an efficient and effective way New York City can improve its outdated election laws, help end voter suppression and save taxpayer dollars," said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. "This has the opportunity to strengthen the people's vote, getting more people to come out, saving money, ending negative campaigns, it seems like a win-win to me. It's time to Rank the Vote!"

"The most diverse city should have the fairest and most efficient system of voting in the country. Rank choice voting gets New York City one giant step closer to ensuring real opportunities for candidates from all over the city, including communities of color, to win public office. And it builds in more incentives for all candidates to seek out all of our votes. No one should be taking us for granted. I support rank choice voting because it helps under-represented New Yorkers get the attention they deserve!" said Maya Wiley, New School Senior Vice President for Social Justice.

"Years ago, I served on the school board, which had a form of Ranked Choice Voting. It worked then and it can work now. Ranked Choice Voting is a better way for voters to express their preferences--and it saves taxpayers' money," said State Senator James Sanders Jr.

"I'm proud that I helped New Yorkers across the state gain the opportunity to participate in Early Voting, and I hope we will build on that grassroots momentum by passing Ranked Choice Voting in New York City. Ranked Choice Voting will make our elections fairer and ensure that our elected officials are diverse and representative of our people. It's democracy in action!" said State Senator Robert Jackson.

"I proudly support the push for Ranked Choice Voting in New York City. It will encourage positive campaigning, prevent costly run-offs, and increase diverse representation in government. Our city is in need of progressive change, and RCV is a step in the right direction in reforming electoral politics," said State Senator Luis Sepúlveda.

"In the most recent general election, more than 60% of eligible New Yorkers did not show up to vote. New York needs to implement common-sense electoral reforms that protect our democracy and encourage civic participation, which is why I'm proud to sponsor ranked choice voting legislation in the State Senate. Our new Democratic Majority passed historic voting reform legislation earlier this year, and I'm proud to stand with the Rank The Vote campaign to encourage all New Yorkers to support ranked choice voting when they vote early or on Election Day!" said State Senator Brad Hoylman.

"Democratic government requires elections in which voters feel that their voice has been heard and their interests represented. When candidates win with less than 50% of the vote, the legitimacy of our elections is threatened. Ranked choice voting ensures that winning candidates truly have the backing of a majority of voters, while allowing voters to vote their conscience rather than choosing "the lesser of two evils." It's time for New York City to give our democracy a shot in the arm – it's time for ranked choice voting," said State Senator Liz Kreuger.

"Ranked-choice voting has proven to increase representation of women and people of color in government, because it lessens the entrenched political power of white-male representatives that have historically pushed insurgent candidates aside. Under this system, every candidate will be motivated to genuinely engage with communities beyond their base, and actually speak to and for a majority. At the end of the day, New York City deserves an electoral system that encourages voters to choose the person that best aligns with their values, not the lesser of two evils," said State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx/Westchester).

"Ranked Choice Voting puts power back in the hands of the people by giving voters more options and empowering new candidates so that every community has a voice. I will be voting yes to establishing ranked choice voting in the city of New York and I encourage everyone else to do the same," said State Senator Julia Salazar

"Through ranked choice voting, New Yorkers have more power to make their voices heard, plain and simple. Additionally, candidates will engage more deeply with ALL communities, hopefully leading to more representative elected officials with greater support. Ranked choice voting is an exciting reform that will strengthen and revitalize NYC elections," said State Senator Andrew Gournardes.

"Ranked choice voting will expand access to our democratic process, save money, and put more power in the hands of voters," said State Senator Brian Kavanagh. "I have long advocated for ranked choice voting, sponsoring state legislation for 11 straight years to establish ranked choice voting for local elections, and I am pleased to see that the 2019 New York City Charter Revision Commission put RCV on the ballot this year. So now it's up to New York City voters. I urge everyone to vote yes on Question #1!"

"We are in a position here in New York City to change the structures of power," said Zephyr Teachout, Activist and Fordham Law Professor. "Even in New York City women have too little power, less than one quarter of our City Council is women. One of the things we can do to change that, next month, is Vote Yes on 1."

"A vote for Ranked Choice Voting this year will mean we can look forward to candidates who truly represent the diversity of New York City," said Bertha Lewis President of the Black Institute.

"Ranked Choice Voting provides an opportunity to increase democracy and eliminate expensive, low turnout elections. This is an opportunity to streamline the democratic process. Thank you to Public Advocate Williams, Council Member Lander, and Common Cause for their effort," said Council Member Keith Powers.

"Ranked Choice Voting will give New York City voters the opportunity to vote for candidates they believe in, and will ensure that our elected officials have the support of the majority of voters in their district. This will be a huge step for election reform in New York City, and an exciting opportunity for voters to have a true voice in our elections and choosing who will represent their community," said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

"I am excited to join my colleagues and community in voting yes on 1 for ranked choice voting this Election Day!" Said Council Member Ritchie Torres. "RCV will help bring diverse and engaged candidates to NYC office, and will help incentivize candidates to engage with diverse communities that are so often ignored by candidates in NYC elections. RCV has huge potential for helping NYC have a diverse range of representation in our elected officials, including people of color, women, insurgent candidates, and other too-often marginalized voices. Join me in voting yes on 1 on the ballot tomorrow!"

"Ranked Choice Voting should be the law of the land in New York State for all elections. If taken up by this Charter Commission it would save our City millions of dollars and make elections more inclusive with higher turnout," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Ranked Choice Voting has been used successfully around the country, since at least the 1940s. More recently states like Maine have adopted it as a law because it helps elect candidates who are supported by a majority of voters while at the same time increasing voter turnout and saving municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is time we get smart and do the right thing and work to adopt it here in New York."

"When there is an opportunity to make our elections more fair and elevate people of color in underrepresented communities, we must take it. I am looking forward to taking advantage of Early Voting this year to pass Ranked Choice Voting on the November Ballot! Vote Yes on 1!" said Co-Chair of City Council Black, Latino and Asian Caucus Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

"Ranked Choice Voting has a proven track record across the Country and would improve and empower our electorate. On Tuesday, we have the opportunity to make New York City the model for a fair and practical democracy," said City Councilmember Paul Vallone.

"Ranked Choice Voting will eradicate the 'spoiler effect': voters will be able to vote their conscience and not have to worry about their vote inadvertently counting towards an opponent," said Council Member Rafael Espinal. "It will also alter the way we campaign and encourage candidates to talk to new people and build a broad base of support. Join me in voting yes on 1 for ranked choice voting."

"It does not make any sense to win a special election and then have to run again months later. It is a complete waste of taxpayer dollars and it can decrease voter turnout," said Councilman Eric Ulrich. "Ranked choice voting is a commonsense solution that gives people more options – all while making our election process more efficient and cost effective."

"Democracy can only truly be effective when everyone's voice is heard. We need to implement ways, such as Ranked Choice Voting and Early Voting, that make voting and running for office more accessible for everyone. Ranked Choice Voting helps people like me, women of color who are running against incumbents with party support, run for office and get elected. We need to ensure that candidates running for office look like and understand the communities that they are elected to represent, and that voters are given every single opportunity to be active participants in their communities," said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz.

"Our state's democracy is in need of many changes and ranked ballot voting works to move our democracy in the right direction," said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. "As one of many steps we have to take to strengthen our democracy, ranked choice voting works to allow every single vote to matter and every single candidate to get a fair chance at winning the election. Ranked choice voting allows New Yorkers to finally experience the best of both worlds - with ranked choice voting, there is no need to sacrifice representation or your beliefs. It breaks down an issue that is normally viewed as "this candidate vs this candidate" and instead represents it as the multifaceted issues that elections actually are. I fully support ranked choice voting and urge New Yorkers to vote yes on Nov. 4th!"

"With ranked choice voting, candidates need to appeal to the entire electorate, not just their base of support. This dynamic will make for greater voter engagement and more participation in the process. I encourage New Yorkers who did not take advantage of early voting to mark yes for proposal 1 on ranked choice voting and usher in this election reform," said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF - Manhattan).

"Ranked Choice Voting is a fair and progressive system for ensuring that the will and preferences of voters are fully taken into account. It will give candidates with the widest range of support, even when they are not always someone's first choice, an opportunity to prevail in races without a clear majority-winner, and allow more diverse voices a chance to be impactful and heard. I applaud Common Cause NY, Minkwon, and my colleagues for all the support they have given on this initiative, and join them in urging New Yorkers to vote yes on Question 1," said Assemblymember Ron Kim.

"This year voters have a historic opportunity to reform New York City's outdated primary and special elections by voting yes on ballot proposal 1 which will institute Ranked Choice Voting. With this innovative system, in crowded fields voters can rank their top 5 candidates, produce winners with more than 50% of the vote, and save the City millions of dollars by ending unnecessary runoff elections," said Assemblyman David I. Weprin. "I thank Common Cause NY for championing this important reform and urge New Yorkers to vote yes on proposal 1 on Tuesday November 5."

"New York Communities for Change is proud to support a reform that will force candidates to engage all communities in their districts and give voters more choice. Ranked Choice Voting is needed in New York City so that we can continue to build power and transform our communities" - Jonathan Westin, Executive Director New York Communities for Change.

"Ranked Choice Voting will make our elections more fair, hold politicians accountable, and put power back in the hands of the people. That's why I'm voting Yes on 1," said Cynthia Nixon, Actor and Activist.

"New Kings Democrats has been using RCV for our own internal elections and endorsements for some time now. We really believe it is a more sensible and democratic way to hold local elections, and it's shown to work in other cities, and it will work very well here too."

"It's been too easy for candidates to ignore marginalized communities, including LGBTQ voters, because they didn't think they needed every vote to win. Ranked Choice Voting ends that mindset because with RCV, every vote matters. With Ranked Choice Voting, marginalized communities will be engaged by every candidate. Candidates will have to knock on the door of not just a certain plurality, but on the diverse doors of NYC's mosaic majority. It's core to the mission of Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City to increase the civic engagement of LGBTQ New Yorkers, and our membership enthusiastically encourages everyone to give every New Yorker a voice and vote Yes on 1!" said Rod Townsend, President, Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC.

"We are at an inflection point in our democratic experiment where the question must be asked do our leaders represent the many or the few, some of us or all of us. Ranked choice voting will put the power back in the hands of the people, restoring confidence that our elected leaders speak for all of us and reflect our diversity," said Brette McSweeney, President, Eleanor's Legacy.

Jessica Walker, President and CEO of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce: "Ranked-choice voting is a win-win for the city's budget, its residents, and the businesses that call New York home. This common-sense idea will save the city (and its taxpayers) money, ensure that the intentions of voters are heard, and make elections more convenient for all. This is a no-brainer. The policy should be adopted at once."

"Arena recommends New Yorkers to Vote Yes on November's ballot initiative. In New York City, in large part due to its public financing system, citywide elections are often large multi-candidate fields. The vote is usually divided so many ways that no candidate reaches the threshold required in city law to win the primary, triggering a runoff election. But asking voters to go to the polls twice in such a short period of time favors those with the ability to do so, which tend to be wealthier and more privileged voters. Instead, NYC needs ranked-choice voting, also known as instant runoff voting, to allow voters to list candidates in order of preference-so they only have to go to the polls once," said Ravi Gupta, Co-Founder and Senior Managing Partner at Arena.

"New York City is a global leader in innovation and our vibrant civic culture is a model for cities around the country. However, when it comes to voting and elections, our city has been behind," said Julie Samuels, Executive Director of Tech:NYC. "While the state legislature recently passed a number of needed reforms, there is still more to be done. Ranked-choice voting would be an important step towards better and more efficient elections, and we hope the majority of New Yorkers vote yes on 1 tomorrow."

"One of the most frequent criticisms from voters is that they too often feel as if they're forced to choose between the lesser of two evils. Fortunately, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) empowers the electorate to vote their conscience without fear of "wasting" their vote or "acting as a spoiler." RCV is one of the more elegant solutions to an age-old problem, and will undoubtedly make our democratic-republic a little more democratic," said Nathan Rubin – Author, "Boomers To Millennials" and Founder, Millennial Politics.

"Amplify Her supports Ranked Choice Voting because we know that 2021 presents a unique opportunity to elect new progressive women and we know that because Ranked Choice Voting is the most democratic form of voting, it's the best way for voters' preferences to be truly reflected in the election results," said Sara Lind, Manhattan Borough Director of Amplify Her.

"Shetu Inc. supports ranked-choice voting because it promotes majority rule, positive and grassroots campaigning, which exactly our current election system has missing. Often times, elected officials are elected in their position with a very small percentage of voters support, it is a big barrier for them to make a bold and progressive decision. We believe with RCV our election system, elected offices, and overall democracy will be much stronger and Bangladeshis and all immigrant communities will be greatly benefited by that."

"At Motivote, we're committed to helping people overcome all the little things that get in the way of voting, like confusing processes and negative campaigns. And we're about making voting more fun, easy and social to increase participation in elections. For both those reasons, we're excited to support this initiative that gives voters more voice and helps people make sense of crowded candidate fields in primary and special elections," said Jess Riegel, CEO & Co-Founder of Motivote.

"Rank Choice Voting is a common sense reform to make our elections more fair and democratic, as well as, safeguard taxpayer resources from unnecessary runoff elections. We are proud to support the measure. We urge Staten Islanders to vote yes on Question 1," said Julienne Verdi, Chair & Founder of Move Forward Staten Island.