New Yorkers Take Advantage of Ranked Choice Voting – Again!
NEW YORK, NY (06/28/2023) (readMedia)-- Last night, New Yorkers in 24 City Council primaries had the chance to rank their candidates in order of preference – thanks to Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). RCV gives voters the opportunity to either rank as many as five candidates in order of preference or vote for just one like they always have. If no one wins with a majority (more than 50 percent), the candidate that came in last is eliminated and voters' second choice votes get counted and so on until there's a majority winner.
RCV applies to primaries and special elections for all local offices including City Council, Borough President, Comptroller, Public Advocate and Mayor. Voters overwhelmingly passed RCV in the fall of 2019, with 74 percent of the vote.
"New Yorkers successfully voted yet again in another Ranked Choice Voting election! The election went smoothly with voters loving the easy process that affords them more choice and more voice. New Yorkers can expect to know final results for these elections in the coming weeks, thanks to pro-voter reforms that allow a voter to fix their absentee ballot over stray marks or a missing signature. RCV puts power back in the hands of the people, delivering consensus majority winners every time. That's the robust democracy we need right now," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and Board Chair of Rank the Vote.
What will we know and when?
Results on Election night only reflect in-person votes cast during the early voting period, on Election Day itself and received, valid absentee ballots that do not need to be cured. Affidavit ballots and absentee ballots received after early voting ends are not included. Therefore, election night results are incomplete. The BOE will update ballots counted and results of the rounds from ranked choice voting every week on Tuesday.
- June 27: the NYC Board of Elections will tabulate the first RCV round to provide unofficial, and incomplete results. These will not include affidavit and all absentee ballots.
- July 5: the BOE will release an updated RCV count with the absentee ballots they've received so far, and will continue to update these results weekly until all ballots are in and the count is certified.
- July 11: likely date of final results which will include final round-by-round tabulation as needed.
This year, voters can expect to know a bit more information as the BOE has made helpful adjustments in terms of public reporting. Now New Yorkers will be able to see how many votes have been counted and what percentage is left in an easy to read fashion. The BOE will also clearly show how votes are transferred from one round to another.
More than 78,000 New Yorkers statewide voted early. In New York City, every City Council Member was up for reelection, with only half of the races contested. Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and Board Chair of Rank the Vote on those numbers:
"Early voting remains a smart and sound investment for New York, alleviating the burden on Election Day itself, providing the BOE with enough time to work out any kinks and letting voters vote on their own terms. It's not surprising that only a handful of New Yorkers cast their ballots in an off-year election with only a limited number of competitive races. Turnout has never been the argument for early voting, it's about accessibility and giving New Yorkers more time to vote."
Cross endorsements in RCV races
This election cycle, New Yorkers saw two sets of candidates – one in lower Manhattan (Susan Lee and Ursila Jung) and one in Harlem (Assembly Member Al Taylor and Yusef Salaam) – crossed endorsed each other in their respective races. This is typical – and voter friendly – in a ranked choice voting (RCV) election since the voting method incentivizes positive, issue-based campaigning, and evidence suggests that candidates are more likely to run in a positive campaign environment without attack ads and with more focus on substance.
"Successful candidates understand that Ranked Choice Voting gives voters more choice and more voice, and that the focus of campaigns should be 'on the issues and not any individual,' as Assemblymember Al Taylor said so well while cross endorsing Yusef Salaam. And in lower Manhattan, Susan Lee acknowledged that both she and Ursila agree on many issues and voters deserve someone committed to transparency. Cross endorsements don't hurt or help one gender, or party, or any one political persuasion: they benefit the voters who get to hear about issues over negative personal attacks. Voters appreciate and support ranked choice voting because it puts the power back in their hands. We encourage all New Yorkers to take advantage of their rights to either rank their vote or just vote for one candidate like they always have," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY and Board Chair of Rank the Vote.
Research shows that ranked choice voting results in more wins for candidates of color, especially women. For the first time, women make up a majority of the NYC Council. Ranked choice voting incentivizes positive, issue-based campaigning, and evidence suggests that women are more likely to run in a positive campaign environment without attack ads and with more focus on substance.
Expectations for Voters
In 2021, Common Cause/NY and Rank the Vote NYC released the preliminary results of exit polling from the city's first ranked choice voting election. The poll was conducted by Edison Research throughout early voting and on Election Day, with a sample size of 1,662, both in-person and on the phone, with voters from a broad spectrum of ages, races, and education levels that reflect the demographics of the city. The poll shows that voters embraced the benefits of ranked choice voting, found it simple to understand, and want to use it in future elections.
- 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.
- 42% of voters maximized their newfound power and ranked five candidates.
- New Yorkers understand the promise and the power of Ranked Choice Voting.
- 51% ranked because it allowed it them to vote their values
- 49% ranked because it allowed them to support multiple candidates
- 41% ranked because it gave them more of a say in who gets elected
- 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.
- Contrary to fears that Ranked Choice Voting would harm voters by creating a knowledge tax, most voters ranked three or more candidates in the mayoral primary.
- Overall, 72% of voters ranked three or more candidates.
- 66% of Black voters ranked three or more candidates, 64% of Hispanic voters ranked three or more candidates, 80% of white voters ranked three or more candidates and 72% of Asian voters ranked three or more candidates.