Posted by Emily Risch on November 06, 2019 at 11:11 AM

For Immediate Release
November 5, 2019

New York City Voters Adopt Ranked Choice Voting by Landslide, Adding to National Momentum for Change

Voters will use ranked choice voting for all primaries and special elections in nation’s largest city of 8 million; first use in open seat mayoral election in 2021 

New York City--FairVote hailed the overwhelming approval by New York City voters to use ranked choice voting to elect the mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president and members of the City Council starting in June 2021. New York is the largest city in the nation, with 8 million people across five boroughs, and it is projected to have a record number of candidates running in its 2021 primaries that will include an open seat for mayor. 

This victory -- projected to be with some 70% of the vote -- comes as RCV will already be used for congressional and presidential elections in Maine in 2020 and was used in a record 11 cities this November. RCV ensures that our representatives are grounded in majority support, avoiding the “spoiler effect” of votes getting split, and solving the problem of time-consuming and expensive runoff elections that typically generate lower turnout. In New York City, voters will be able to rank as many as five candidates in order of their choice, and winners will need to earn a majority vote in the final round. 

“New York City voters showed confidence in growing evidence that ranked choice voting can strengthen local democracy, eliminate the spoiler effect in large fields of candidates, and allow fresh energy to enter races while making sure that candidates who win do so with majority support from the community,” said FairVote president and CEO Rob Richie. “Today’s vote was a tremendous victory for local reformers that campaigned to place ranked choice on the ballot in the first place, and led the effort to educate voters in coalition with other organizations on the ground.”

FairVote has worked closely with city reformers for decades and led a push with the 2018 mayoral charter commission that catalyzed this year’s reform drive. This year, Common Cause New York has led the push to persuade the city’s charter review commision to place ranked choice voting on the ballot, and spearheaded the “Rank the Vote NYC” voter education campaign in coalition with local advocacy groups and business organizations. That remarkably diverse coalition of civil rights leaders, business and union leaders, progressive champions and traditional good government champions included New York Communities for Change, Partnership for New York City, New York Immigration Coalition, Citizens Union and SEIU 1199, among many more [].

FairVote on November 18 will honor as “Champions of Democracy” three of the leading elected officials who have led efforts to bring ranked choice voting to New York City: Public Advocate Jumaane Willaims, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and New York City Councilor Brad Lander. They have all been outspoken on the value of RCV this year:

  • Jumaane Williams: “Ranked choice voting is a no-brainer for New York City— it's more cost effective, more democratic, and more inclusive. This is a voting reform we need now.”

  • Gale Brewer: “Ranked choice voting is a fair system that strengthens democracy, saves money, and ensures that winners have majority support.”

  • Brad Lander: “Ranked choice voting system will make New York City elections more democratic, more participatory, and more efficient.”

With more than two-thirds of ballots counted, ranked choice voting has a landslide victory margin of 72% to 28%. It’s a reflection of the broad support earned by ranked choice voting during the campaign from across the city and across the spectrum.

This comes as ranked choice voting is gaining momentum nationwide, backed by a growing grassroots movement of state reform leaders from around the country. Eleven cities used ranked choice this month, with the five newest cities from a cross-section of states: Utah, Michigan, New Mexico and Minnesota. Easthampton (MA) also approved ranked choice voting in a charter amendment vote tonight.

In September, Maine became the first state to use ranked choice voting to decide Electoral College votes in the general presidential election in 2020, and will allow RCV for presidential primaries starting in 2024. Two vibrant signature drives would place RCV before voters in statewide ballot measures to adopt RCV in Alaska and Massachusetts. The recently-introduced Ranked Choice Voting Act would require states to adopt ranked choice voting (RCV) in primary and general elections for Congress beginning in 2022. 

Four state Democratic parties (in Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas and Wyoming) will have voters cast RCV ballots in their party-run presidential primaries in 2020. Voters can rank their favorite candidates in order of choice and then those ballots will be tallied like a traditional RCV tally until all remaining candidates have at least 15% support, at which points delegates will be allocated on a proportional basis according to party rules.


FairVote is a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice, and a representative democracy that works for all Americans. 

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