Ranked Choice Voting
Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an innovative approach to voting that allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, thereby increasing competition, encouraging civility and requiring candidates to win genuine policy support from voters, rather than simply stoking division.
RCV was It was successfully used New York City’s 2021 primaries and special elections for mayor, comptroller, public advocate, borough president, and city council and is now being used across the country in places like Alaska and Maine.
RCV is straightforward and is often referred to as “Instant Runoff” voting. Voters have the option to just choose a single candidate as in the past, or rank candidates in order of preference: first, second, third and so forth. If any candidate receives more than 50% of the vote on the initial count, they win. If no majority is reached, the lowest vote-getter is dropped and an instant runoff occurs, reallocating votes based on voter preference., with votes that do not help voters’ top choices win counting for their next choice. Doing so provides more choices to more voices in our elections.
How we got here
Years of gerrymandered election districts have led to the creation of “safe seats” throughout New York state. These noncompetitive elections drive down voter engagement, turnout and keep out alternate voices. The result is an electorate in New York that does not show up to vote and one where more than 40% are considering leaving the state.
Further, in general elections with three or more candidates, voters often face a choice: vote for who they want and risk electing the candidate they like the least or vote for the candidate they think is more likely to win. This is the “spoiler effect” and it artificially suppresses the support of third party candidates. Ranked choice voting allows voters to vote their conscience.