VIDEO: Rep. Jerrold Nadler Rallies for Ranked Choice Voting in NYC

Comptroller Stringer, Sens. Hoylman and Jackson, Assemb. Rosenthal and CM Rodriguez

NEW YORK, NY (10/27/2019) (readMedia)--

Link to video here.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler and a diverse group of elected officials and advocates rallied on Sunday for Ranked Choice Voting which is Question 1 on the ballot. 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. New Yorkers can now take advantage of Early Voting which runs October 26th - November 3rd, or vote on Election Day November 5th. More information about when and where to vote early can be found here.

Ranked Choice Voting, if passed, would begin in 2021 and apply to all local offices: City Council, Comptroller, Borough President, Public Advocate and Mayor.

Congressman Nadler said, "In New York City, two thirds of local candidates win elections without majority support: that's not how it's supposed to work. Ranked Choice Voting will make our elections more fair by engaging more voices and giving voters more choice. That's why I'm voting yes on question one - our democracy depends on it."

Ranked Choice Voting gives voters the option to rank their top five candidates in local New York City primary and special elections. If voters still want to vote for just one candidate, they can. A candidate who collects a majority of the vote, fifty percent plus one, wins. If there's no majority winner, then the last place candidate will be eliminated and the second choice votes for that candidate are redistributed. The process is repeated until there is a majority winner.

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"New Yorkers deserve elections that lift up our voices, and push candidates to campaign better. Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is the simple solution that puts power back in the hands of the people where it belongs. That's why Common Cause/NY is proud to stand with all of these incredible New York City elected officials fighting for better elections," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.

Ranked Choice Voting ensures that every winner of an election receives a majority. 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, like the 2013 Democratic primary run-off for public advocate cost more than $11 million. And voters like it 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. Other 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. Ranked Choice Voting prevents the "spoiler effect," and encourages coalition building.

Comptroller Scott Stringer said, "Ranked choice voting is a critical opportunity to help ensure every New Yorker's voice is heard in the electoral process. I'm proud to vote early for this initiative that will breathe new life into our democracy."

State Senator Brad Hoylman said, "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 Congressman Nadler and Assembly Member Rosenthal to encourage all New Yorkers to vote early for ranked choice voting in local elections!"

"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.

"When there is an opportunity to make our elections more fair and elevate people of color in underrepresented and immigrants 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 City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.


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.

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 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.