Explaining ‘Ranked Choice Voting’

Your Local Election Headquarters: New York State

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Primary Election Day is next Tuesday. Early Voting started this weekend. And in New York City, “ranked choice voting” is underway.

“We’re going to have one vote, but you’re going to take that one vote, and use it strategically to select up to five candidates who you believe, you could live with in that elected position,” said League of Women Voters of New York City Co-President Diane Burrows.

Burrows says you don’t have to select five, but it can give your voice a boost.

“The strategic part of it is that the longer your ballot stays in play, the stronger your voice is, so the more choices you can select, the longer your ballot stays on the table,” Burrows said.

Once votes are counted, if one candidate has more than 50 percent of first choice votes, they win. If not, the bottom candidate is bumped off, and automatic “rounds” take place. If your first choice was the one eliminated, your vote moves to your second choice, and so on. 

Sarah Goff with Common Cause New York says it can avoid costly runoff elections and less candidates dropping out early. 

“What we’ve seen more than anything, is that more candidates are running, we have more candidates of color, more women are running and so this really supports a diverse candidate field,” Goff said. 

As for whether ranked choice voting could make its way to other parts of the state, Goff says, “I think what we’ve seen in other states, is that one city adopts it and likes it and therefore spreads, so we’ll have to see.”

Burrows also says when it comes to ranked choice voting, patience is key because it can take longer to get election results.

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