Voices & Choices

Historically Large Number of Candidates Run in RCV Elections in New York City

Historically Large Number of Candidates Run in RCV Elections in New York City

This year, New York City is seeing huge numbers of candidates filing to run for the first City Council elections with ranked choice voting (RCV) in the city. The upcoming primaries on June 22nd are a huge moment for RCV, as the largest city in the nation adopts a fairer method of counting votes. Over 50 elections will use RCV in the June primaries, including elections for mayor, comptroller, city council, public advocate, and borough president.

The large candidate fields may stem partially from NYC’s recent adoption of RCV, as a result of candidates being unafraid that they might act as a “spoiler candidate” if they choose to run. Previous research has shown that RCV elections tend to draw larger and more diverse candidate fields. 

The city’s change to its public financing system may also have contributed to the influx of candidates, as this year about 95% of city council candidates participated in the public financing match system, up from around 72% in 2017. The public financing match program was increased to an 8-to-1 match, up from a 6-to-1 match in 2017.

Democratic primaries for NYC’s 51 City Council seats are seeing an average of almost 6 candidates per race this year. In years past, this would bring with it problems of strategic voting and plurality winners. Under the RCV system, New York voters can cast their ballot secure in the knowledge that it will be counted fully, and the candidates who advance from the upcoming primaries will do so with majority support from voters. Large candidate fields are a phenomenal development in New York, because they ensure that voters have a wide array of options to choose from and put their faith in when deciding on elected officials. 

Image credit: MusikAnimal - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lower_Manhattan_skyline_-_June_2017.jpg

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