In the post-election whirlwind, many have been quick to dismiss the merits of Ranked Choice voting. The issues with this election came not from the voting system, but from the organization responsible for coordinating the primary: the City Board of Elections. This organization of political appointees incorrectly reported 135,000 test ballots, spurring certain media pieces misrepresenting Ranked Choice Voting as overly complex. With this added confusion, you might have been led to believe that New York City’s first Ranked Choice Voting election since 1947 didn’t go as hoped.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
It would be unfair and incorrect to lay the blame at the feet of Ranked Choice Voting, as it has been flawlessly implemented in cities like Oakland, Burlington, and Santa Fe. It’s being used statewide in Maine and soon to be used in Alaska. Ireland, Australia, and India have used it nationwide for decades. Yet none of these places have had the same issues as NYC, because their Boards of Elections did not make the mistake we saw in this election.
Regardless of any bureaucratic mishaps, Ranked Choice Voting puts more power in the hands of voters where it belongs. This results in higher political cooperation and increased representation among marginalized groups, and that’s exactly what we witnessed in the Big Apple.
Top candidates in New York City embraced Ranked Choice Voting, and some even campaigned together. Organizations co-endorsed or even ranked their endorsements. Studies are still being done on if Ranked Choice Voting does cause positive campaigning, but it’s encouraging to see steps in the right direction.
Ranked Choice Voting opens the door to more candidates—especially non-traditional and diverse candidates—and New York City is now poised to reap these benefits. Voters elected the city’s second Mayor of color, likely a majority-women City Council, and the most Council Members of color ever. In a city where women make up 52% of the population and 58% are BIPOC (according to the US Census Bureau), this is a far more representative council than any in its history.
Most importantly, New York City voters overwhelmingly approve of this simple change to the way they vote. 75% of voters want to continue using Ranked Choice Voting, 83% of voters ranked more than one candidate, and most voters said the ballot was simple to fill out, according to a recent Common Cause/Rank the Vote NYC poll.
Even those candidates who didn’t win appreciated the process and endorsed the Ranked Choice Voting system. From Maya Wiley in the Mayoral race to Corey Johnson in the Comptroller race, many candidates who came up short still put full faith in this more representative and sincere method of voting. That says a lot. The runners-up of the election are not concerned about calling foul-play or expanding their personal influence, but rather their chief priority is creating and supporting a more fair and equitable system.
Ranked Choice Voting has become a staple of democratic nations, so it is fantastic that the movement is finally growing in New York and throughout the country.
Ranked Choice NY is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that educates voters about Ranked Choice Voting in New York. To learn more and to join the movement, click here.