Ranked Choice Voting Delivers Diverse Mayoral Frontrunners, and New Yorkers Approve

2 women and 3 candidates of color among the top 4 candidates for Mayor

NEW YORK, NY (06/15/2021) (readMedia)-- In a new poll released yesterday, 74% of respondents ranked more than one choice for mayor. Black voters -- more so than any other demographic -- used all five rankings.

Diversity and Representation in the Mayor's Race

Thanks to ranked choice voting, there are three candidates of color and two women in the top four of the mayoral race. Ranked choice voting radically alters who can be a leading contender by reducing pressure on candidates to drop out and avoid vote splitting.

  • A new FairVote study proves this phenomenon: candidates pay no penalty when they run against opponents of the same race or ethnicity. For example, instead of dividing Black community support, Adams and Wiley can run against each other as serious contenders.
  • Similarly, thanks to ranked choice voting, the city could elect its first woman mayor.
  • This Marist poll, released yesterday, shows Adams in the lead followed by Garcia, Wiley, and Yang.
  • This Emerson/Pix11 poll, released last week, shows Adams in the lead followed by Wiley, Garcia, and Yang.

Early Voters are Responding Well to RCV

From Southeast Queens to the Upper West Side to the Bronx, New Yorkers are ranking their vote without issue and with enthusiasm.

  • The New York Times interviewed dozens of voters and found "that most voters were taking advantage of being able to rank up to five candidates out of the field of 13."
  • Peter Karp in Brooklyn told the Times "'I'm very excited about the ranked voting,' he said. 'I feel like it's an ability to really vote for who closest aligns with your views without throwing your vote to the absolute opposite of that.'"
  • Jose Morell in the Bronx told Gothamist "It was easy. It was very easy."
  • Andrea Glenn, a Prospect Heights voter, told Politico "It makes you feel a little more at ease... If my person doesn't win, my second or third choice may still have the ability."
  • And Reuben E. from St. Albans told Politico he "ranked Eric Adams first, followed by Yang, Wiley, McGuire and Shaun Donovan and praised the ranked-choice system for avoiding later runoff elections... 'I think it's great. It saves money, less aggravation and grief.'"

This tracks with last week's NY1/Ipsos poll, which found that 80% of voters are comfortable using ranked-choice voting. And in exit polling from the special elections earlier this year:

  • 95% of voters stated they found the RCV ballot simple to fill out
  • 75% of voters stated they were familiar with RCV prior to arriving at the polls
  • 70% of voters took advantage of RCV and ranked more than one candidate
  • There was no statistically meaningful difference between ethnic groups' understanding of RCV :
    • 94% of Black voters found their ballot simple to complete.
    • 97% of Asian voters found their ballot simple to complete.
    • 97% of Hispanic voters found their ballot simple to complete.
    • 97% of white voters found their ballot simple to complete.
  • Out of the four special elections, voters in CD 15 - a majority Black and Latino district - ranked the most candidates.

When to Expect Results

New York State law prioritizes voter enfranchisement to provide for efficient, accurate, and fair elections. As a result, final results, as always, will not be available on election night. Absentee, affidavit, and military ballots cannot be counted until June 29 per New York State law. At that point, election workers will begin notifying voters of the chance to correct "curable defects'' with absentee ballots. Corrected absentee ballots are due no later than July 9.

This timeline is standard for elections in New York, and is not prolonged by ranked choice voting (RCV).

Results on Election night will only reflect in-person votes cast during the early voting period and on Election Day itself. It will not include absentee or affidavit ballots. Therefore, it is incomplete.

  • June 29: the NYC Board of Elections will tabulate the first RCV round to provide unofficial, and incomplete results. These will not include absentee ballots, which cannot be counted until June 29 per New York State law.
  • July 6: 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 12: likely date of final results which will include final round-by-round tabulation as needed.

"Democracy takes time, and every vote counts. Accurate and fair election results are worth waiting for," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY. "One of the many benefits to ranked choice voting is that it negates the need for multi-million dollar run-off elections, which usually take place 2-3 weeks later. Even if no one clears 50% on Election Day, we'll get the results in a comparable amount of time with none of the additional cost or diminished turn out."