How ranked-choice voting works


NEW YORK — Ranked choice voting is a term you’re hearing more and more about.

On Tuesday, ranked-choice voting was put to the test in two special elections in the Bronx. Voters went to the polls to vote on the vacant city council spots in District 11 and District 15. A winner has yet to be determined, and the process may take a few weeks.

According to Schenectady native Andrew Yang, who is currently running for mayor of New York City in an election that will use ranked-choice voting, says it discourages extremism while promoting compromise. It also leaves much more room for third-parties to be involved in the political process when compared to a system like the electoral college.

Susan Lerner from Rank the Vote NYC explained more about how this process works. She says that ranked choice voting is supposed to encourage more equity and representation in government.

Rank as many or as few candidates as you like, choosing one candidate for each column:

  • First choice: pick your favorite candidate
  • Second choice: pick your next preferred candidate in the second column
  • Continue with your third choice and beyond

If no candidate receives the majority of first-place votes, there is an instant run-off. In each round, the candidate with the lowest number of first-place votes is eliminated and people who voted for them will then have their second-place vote counted.

If there is only one position available—like for a mayor, governor, or president, for example—the eliminations end once one candidate is able to reach 50% of the vote. The winning percentages change depending on how many spots are being voted on.

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