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5 reasons to bring Ranked Choice Voting to NYC

Early voting has started! Ranked-choice voting is Question 1 on this year’s ballot, and if New York City says yes, RCV will replace the standard voting process in primary and special elections starting in 2021.

But how will it make elections better? Here’s the lowdown:

1. Candidates need majority support to win!

Under ranked-choice voting, rather than voting for a single candidate, you rank the candidates 1-2-3-4-5. If no candidate gets more than 50% of 1st-choice vote, then the winner is the candidate who gets a majority of 1st- and 2nd-choice votes combined (or 1st-, and 2nd-, and 3rd-choice votes, and so on, until someone reaches 50% + 1 vote).

2. A more diverse elected body!

Voters often speak about being forced to choose the “lesser of two evils.” Perhaps you really like one candidate but don’t want to waste your vote on a long shot. So, you go with the candidate who has fundraised more and feels “safer.”

With RCV, you could put your top choice candidate as #1 and the more “eh” one as #2 or #3. And if everyone had that option, the person who seemed like an underdog might win the damn thing. Perhaps the new possibilities are why evidence suggests RCV leads more women and people of color to run for office and win.

3. More positive elections!

Ranked Choice Voting opens up an opportunity to cross-endorse. “Make me your 1st choice, and them your 2nd.” So it’s not surprising that some people report RCV elections to be more civil and less polarizing.

4. Saves millions of dollars!

If candidates for citywide office get less than 40% of the vote in a citywide primary, they have to hold a runoff. In 2013, there was a runoff election for the NYC Democratic primary for public advocate, which cost taxpayers $13 million. This could easily be avoided with a ranking system where, if there is no majority winner, an instant runoff process occurs.

5. It’s working!

Minneapolis and Maine have already reported some benefits of using RCV – including higher voter turnout. And Maine is going so far as to be the first state to allow RCV in the 2020 general election

So, if this all sounds good to you, cast your vote for ranked-choice voting in November! 

In other news:

  • Most important story you’ll read this week: The Public Financing Commission voted 9-0 at its public meeting to match all in-state contributions 6 to 1 … then reversed itself in a 5-4 vote the following week, deciding only to match in-district contributions. This is viewed by many advocates as an attempt to turn public financing into an “incumbency protection program,” wherein only those already known by their constituents will win – which is why it’s perhaps not surprising that the candidates who switched their votes had been appointed by Governor Cuomo and Speaker Carl Heastie. (Note that video of the 9-0 vote is still not available on the Commission’s website). Commissioner Henry Berger, who has 40 years of experience in election law, said he had “thought about it over the weekend” and came to the sudden conclusion that an in-district match would be better. Advocates sent a letter to the Commission recently noting their alarm at the change of course.
  • Yesterday, Andy King was sanctioned by the City Council, suspended for 30 days, given a $15,000 fine, and forced to allow a monitor into his office for the protection of staff. The alleged abuses of staff have been widely reported, but the abuses of taxpayer funds have been overlooked: King’s spouse Neva Shillingford, an executive at a health care workers union 1199SEIU, allegedly worked in his office and would select candidates from her union to work for King and use Council money for her own business. King and his wife also used government cash to host a Virgin Islands retreat, which included hotels and travel, a speaking event by one of Shillingford’s employees, and Shillingford’s daughter’s wedding.

  • A loophole in New York campaign finance law allows lobbyists and developers – who can’t give more than $400 to any candidate for mayor or public advocate – to openly bundle their money and give thousands in support of a candidate. The first $175 of those contributions can be matched 8 to 1 under the city’s current matching program. In 2013, $1.7 million of election money came from lobbyists’ wealthy friends and coworkers, and 2021 is shaping up to be no different – several candidates are already flush with bundler cash. New York City’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB) executive director, Amy Loprest, said the CFB will look more closely at bundling in the 2021 city elections.

  • And of course … Another shady de Blasio fundraising story.

Want to help out?

  • Early voting has arrived! Look up your poll site here.
  • Our next chapter meeting is TONIGHT at the Phluid Project (684 Broadway in Manhattan) from 7pm. Hope to see you there.
  • We’re in the final stretch of RCV and have four dates coming up just for you! Check it out:
    • Nov 2 (Sat) – Brooklyn – 283 Adams St (Near Jay St MetroTech) – 11:30am
    • Nov 3 (Sun) – Queens – Hunters Point Ave Station – 11:30am
    • Nov 4 (Mon) – Manhattan – Union Square – 5:30pm
    • Nov 5 (Tues) – Manhattan – 151 West 84th St – 6pm

RSVP to Tom at if you’d like to attend any of the canvasses or the meeting.

Thank you for reading! Check us out on Twitter and Facebook, and please write with any comments, tips, or suggestions.

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