Elections in New York City could get a lot more chummy, or ugly.
Imagine Eric Adams cross endorses Ruben Diaz Jr. as his number-two choice and Corey Johnson and Scott Stringer as his other favorite candidates in the 2021 mayoral race.
Such unexpected political alliances could occur if ranked-choice voting for city races passes in Tuesday’s election as a proposed change to the City Charter, according to candidates who have run in the system in other cities and states.
Ranked-choice voting allows voters to list their favorite candidates in order of preference on their ballots. If no candidate gets a 50%-plus majority, the candidate with the fewest first-place votes is purged.
Then, the second-place votes of those who backed the eliminated candidate then get dispersed to the remaining candidates. That happens over and over until one candidate gets more than half of the votes and is announced as the winner.
Currently, a New York City candidate for citywide office can win with just over 40% of the vote; if no contestant gets that many votes, a runoff election is scheduled.
Supporters of ranked-choice, which has been in place for years in multiple other places throughout the country, say it helps eliminate costly runoff elections. They also say it tamps down on candidates from trashing each other with negative ads and other attacks because that could risk second-place votes.
Critics of the system call it unconstitutional or confusing.
Councilman Kalman Yaeger has been a vocal critic of the measure, calling on the Jewish community to vote no.
I’m proud to stand with @NYCCouncil members @IDaneekMiller @AdrienneEAdams and @BLACaucusNYC to urge our neighbors to VOTE NO on Question 1 tomorrow.” Yaeger tweeted.” Our communities have fought hard for the right to vote and to have our votes mean something.”
Another issue raised is the already low voter turnout, something that revisions would likely make worse.
“For me, the headline is that it comes with some additional complexity and that imposes negative costs on voters,” said Jason McDaniel, a political scientist at San Francisco State University who said he would “not be surprised to see a somewhat lower turnout if New York adopts ranked-choice voting.”
Ranked-choice voting wouldn’t be used in general elections, but in New York that can be a moot point. The city is heavily Democratic, and elections are frequently decided in the primaries.
A win in New York City would be a big victory for a movement that’s seen mixed success nationally.
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