77% of voters want to use ranked choice voting in future elections. 83% ranked more than one candidate, 95% found the ballot simple to complete

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NEW YORK, NY (06/28/2021) (readMedia)-- Today, 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.

"The largest ranked choice voting election in United States history was a major victory for New York voters who found it easy and empowering, with 77% eager to use it in future elections," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY and chair of Rank the Vote NYC. "Ranked choice voting gives voters a greater say in the outcome of the election, guarantees that the winner is the consensus choice of the most voters, and encourages more active civic participation from both voters and candidates. The data also confirm that our years-long outreach and education efforts paid off brilliantly, and we're so grateful to our community partners who made sure New Yorkers were ready to rank."

Highlights include:

  • 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.

See memo with tables attached for full polling results.

The survey was conducted June 12 – June 22, 2021 among a representative sample of 1,662 Democratic voters in New York City. Interviews were conducted via multiple modes including by telephone and in-person exit polling at 17 early voting locations and at 30 election day voting locations. Interviews were offered in both English and Spanish. 70% of the sample were polled on election day and 30% were polled before the election during the early voting period. Absentee exit polling is ongoing and will be included in the final results in mid-July.

Rank the Vote NYC distributed over 1 million pieces of informational literature and partnered with over 750 organizations to conduct 500+ trainings for campaigns and voters. Canvassers knocked directly on 55,000 doors in the week before Election Day. Throughout Early Voting and on Election Day, over 100 Election Protection volunteers were stationed at poll sites across the city answering questions about ranked choice voting as well.

"The most effective change is led by people who know their community best," said Susan Stamler, Executive Director, United Neighborhood Houses (UNH). "As a network that reaches 765,000 New Yorkers annually, UNH partners with its 44 settlement house members to promote social change and democracy. Settlement houses led voter education outreach efforts across the city by embedding ranked choice voting education and reminders to vote into every-day programs and activities. UNH and New York City's settlement houses are proud to have partnered with Common Cause/NY to educate communities for the first ranked-choice election and are excited to continue this work moving forward."

"The presentations held at Harlem's Kennedy Center via Zoom and in person over the last three months were very well received. Even though the regular traffic at the center has been curtailed due to the pandemic, many expressed how helpful it was getting knowledge about Rank Choice Voting. Our pantry clients, case management clients and particularly the parents of our youth programs were grateful for the workshops and information," said Rev. Deacon Rodney Beckford, Director of Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center of Catholic Charities Community Services inc.

"Despite the restrictions placed by the COVID19 pandemic, Dominicanos USA was able to provide over ten Ranked Choice Voting presentations via Zoom in both English and Spanish. This provided accessibility to information on RCV to a community of voters that spanned from high school students to the senior population. Providing the presentations in Spanish in particular, helped the Dominican-American and Latino communities feel more at ease with this new way of voting. We also ensured that our voters were educated on RCV all the way up until Election Day by phone banking and providing resources for RCV voters, reaching approximately 40,000 voters," said Havolin Tejada, Civic Engagement Coordinator, Dominicanos USA.

"In the words of Shirley Chisholm, "Service to others is the rent you pay for room here on earth." At Faith In New York, we have provided Ranked Choice Voting educational services to clergy leaders, their congregants, tenant associations, precinct councils and other community based organizations through virtual info sessions, tabling at local events and text banking throughout the five boroughs. We take special pride in targeting multiple sessions with our seniors. Combined, we engaged over 65,000 New Yorkers. We share our pride in the effective outreach with partnerships developed through the NYC Elections Consortium. We look forward to embarking on additional ways to keep New Yorkers civically engaged," said Marilyn Joseph

Director of Organizing, Faith in New York.

When to Expect Results

Voters can expect to know the final winner in a few weeks -- thanks to pro-voter election laws. Currently, state law doesn't allow the Board of Elections (BOE) to begin counting ballots until June 29. Why wait a week? Well, in New York a voter can vote via absentee and then later change their mind and vote in person (only the in person vote counts) so the BOE must check to make sure a voter only voted once. Then, absentee voters have a week for their ballots to get to the BOE (ballots must be postmarked by yesterday). And now, thanks to a new, excellent law, a voter can correct or "cure" their absentee ballot over a small mistake, like forgetting his or her signature. The BOE contacts voters about the opportunity to fix their mistake, and corrected ballots are due back by July 9.

Reminder: we likely wouldn't know the official results until at least July 12 even if this were a winner-take-all election like we've had in the past. That's because of two things:

  • The increase in voters taking advantage of absentee ballots
  • The high chance of a run-off election due to the fact that it's unlikely that anyone will clear 40% on election night. If this were a winner take all election, we'd be waiting approximately 2-3 weeks -- or the same amount of time -- for a run-off election. Except then, we could expect low turn-out and a high price tag. No thanks! RCV is a one shot that saves voters time and money.


  • June 22: unofficial election results based on first choices of in-person Election Day and early voting returns
  • June 29: The RCV rounds will be conducted next week on only the in-person votes. The software is instantaneous but these results will still be INCOMPLETE, as they will only include early and in-person votes.
  • July 6: the BOE will release an updated RCV count with the absentee ballots they've received and counted so far, and will continue to update these results weekly until all ballots are in and the count is certified.
  • July 12: likely date of final results which will include final round-by-round tabulation as needed.