This November, New York City voters will get the chance to adopt ranked choice voting -- and activists have launched a new campaign to spread the word.
Rank the Vote NYC, a broad coalition of activists fighting for better governance, kicked off its campaign Thursday to urge New Yorkers to vote “Yes on 1.” This refers to Proposition 1, the ballot initiative that proposes adopting ranked choice voting (RCV) for all special and primary elections in NYC.
RCV, which has the support of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council speaker Corey Johnson, and City Comptroller Scott Stringer, was greenlighted for the November ballot by the NYC Charter Revision Commission.
RCV protects majority rule even in large fields, requiring candidates to campaign beyond their core base of support and to collaborate with -- rather than attack -- each other in the hopes of becoming backup choices for their competitors’ supporters.
Under an RCV system, voters feel free to choose the candidate they like best, second-best and onwards down the ballot without fear of vote splitting or “spoiling’ outcomes. And with the confidence that their choices truly matter comes greater incentive to participate, evidenced by the turnout increase many cities have experienced since adopting RCV.
Curious about how this directly affects NYC? Let’s take a look at February’s special election for public advocate.
In the 16-candidate race for public advocate, roughly 400,000 of more than 4.6 million eligible voters participated -- rendering turnout a meager 8.7 percent. Former city councilman Jumaane Williams (who has endorsed RCV) won with 33 percent of the vote, which means that, in effect, roughly 2.9 percent of New York’s voters directly supported Williams’ election.
RCV, by allowing voters to rank their candidates, will ensure a winner -- even one in a 16 candidate race -- that represents the preferences of most voters. Because voters know their voices will be heard, they have an incentive to show up to the polls -- increasing turnout and reinvigorating our democracy.
The time is nigh to fix the system, and RCV is a reform New Yorkers deserve.