Coming Soon: Ranked-Choice Voting

The next time you go to the polls to vote in a local election you’ll need to rank your choices. Back in November 2019, New Yorkers voted on a series of ballot initiatives to revise the City Charter. (What’s to the City Charter? It’s NYC’s governing document, our constitution.)   

Nearly 74% of voters chose Yes on Amendment 1 – approving a change from a plurality voting system to ranked-choice for all municipal primaries and special elections beginning in 2021. But what does that mean?

Ranked-choice in New York City allows voters to choose up to five different candidates for a position, in order of preference. If one of the candidates fails to receive a majority of first choice votes, second choice votes from candidates with the least number of first choice votes are redistributed to the leading candidates. This process of elimination and redistribution continues until a candidate receives a majority.

One-minute explainer on ranked-choice voting by the Minnesota Public Radio.

Our next municipal primary, scheduled for June 22, 2021, will be North Brooklyn residents’ first chance to participate in the ranked-choice voting system. We have open races for mayor, borough president, and in both council districts 33 and 34.

The most significant difference for voters will be ballot design. According to the Center for Election Science, ranked-choice ballots typically have higher rates of spoilage (ballots that are invalidated because of voter mistakes).

Voters commonly vote in the wrong place or for too many candidates causing the ballot to be tossed out. See a sample ballot above.

On December 7th, the City Council held hearings on the implementation of ranked-choice voting. Two bills, Intro 1994 and T2020-6914, were discussed. The first aims to support voter education during roll out of ranked-choice and the second bill seeks to improve election results reporting. Click here to watch the six hour hearing.

As we prepare for the upcoming municipal elections, share your thoughts on the most pressing issues facing Greenpoint and Williamsburg that candidates must address beginning in 2022. We’re crowdsourcing your responses and will share the results on social media.

UPDATE (12/10/20)

Several city council members and community organizations have filed a lawsuit seeking to block the implementation of RCV in the 2021 primaries. They argue that the city has failed to educate voters and those in vulnerable communities are likely to be disenfranchised. Read more