Voters are likely to vote for the next New York City Mayor next week in a Democratic primary, which will also be an important test of the ranked election, a system that allows voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference instead of just pick one.
Two years after the city’s voters approved a measure to use the ranking system for primary and special elections, Democrats are being asked to place their top five out of 13 mayoral candidates in Tuesday’s vote.
The grand prize winner will almost certainly win the November general election in largely democratic New York City.
If the process goes smoothly, this may encourage other cities and states in the US to consider a ranking pick that has been used for years in cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis and has been adopted by the states of Maine and Alaska.
“I hate to quote Frank Sinatra, but if you can do it in New York, you can do it anywhere,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, who led the 2019 ranking campaign.
Rob Richie, the executive director of FairVote, a national organization that promotes ranking voting, said he believes implementing the system in New York can accelerate adoption.
“I think that New York, if things go as well, will be very comforting for people,” said Richie. “If it’s seen as rocky, it just means people are still asking questions.”
Under the New York system, ranked electoral processes only come into effect when no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. With such a large field of legitimate contenders, it is likely to happen in the Democratic primary this year.
Recent polls have found that Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is the favorite, ranking first by a little less than a quarter of likely voters. Other top contenders include civil rights attorney Maya Wiley, former Urban Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who are between 6 and 12 points behind.
If neither of them receives half of the first place finishers, several rounds of leaderboard selection begin. The last placed candidate is eliminated. All ballot papers that were cast for this eliminated candidate will then be allocated to the number 2 of those voters. Then the votes will be counted again and the last placed candidate will be eliminated. The process repeats itself until there are only two candidates left. Whoever has more votes wins.
It may take two weeks or more to calculate the winner, but Lerner said this was due to state laws regarding postal vote counting – not the ranking system.
The ranking polls will be conducted by computer and will take place “almost immediately” once all eligible postal votes have been determined, she said.
The early voting began on June 12 in the primary to replace temporary mayor Bill de Blasio.
One concern about the new system is that it could confuse an unknown public.
Several people who voted early Wednesday at the Masonic Temple in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn said they had no problem understanding the ranking system, although some liked it better than others.
Dee Parker, who is 70, said she researched the candidates and made five decisions in most races. âIt was too much time,â complained Parker. “I didn’t find it difficult, just time consuming.”
Josh Hartmann, 50, said he was “a big fan” of the new system, even though figuring out his ranking was more work than was required in previous elections. “I think there is more diversity in the candidates,” he said.
Agustin Ricard, 63, a Dominican immigrant who voted in his first mayoral election, said he understood the ranking system but chose not to use it. “I only voted for one candidate for mayor,” he said in Spanish.
New York City also uses the system in area codes for other civic offices, including the city inspector, district president, and city council. There is also a Democratic area code for the Manhattan District Attorney, but this race will not be decided by ranked voting as it is a state office, not a city office.
Voting advocates say the system improves democracy by giving voters more choice. When voting for the ranking list, a voter does not have to worry that a vote will be âwastedâ for his favorite candidate if he leaves several rivals behind: His choice No. 2 or No. 3 could win the race.
New York City won’t be the only jurisdiction to use a ranking poll for the first time this year. Salt Lake City and 20 other cities in Utah will use the system for the first time in the local elections this fall.
New York City voters voted for the 2019 referendum by a wide margin, but a group of city council members and community organizations filed a lawsuit last December to block implementation on the grounds that the system was being implemented too hastily and would be against violate the federal electoral law.
The opponents of the ranking have said that the new system would have a negative impact on voters of color.
Hazel N. Dukes, president of the New York State Conference of the NAACP, compared the ranked election to the suppression of voters in a column in the Amsterdam News.
âStudies have shown that a disproportionate number of black Democrats, especially older voters, vote for only one candidate.
City council member Kalman Yeger bluntly accused at a public hearing in December: âThe election with ranking lists is racist. It is racially designed to prevent minorities from choosing their own. “
A judge dismissed the lawsuit last month, but Yeger and other high-profile opponents on the city council have passed laws aimed at overturning them.
Lerner said evidence, including polling voters in the city council’s special election earlier this year, does not support the claim that ranking of elections favored one ethnic group over another.
“We are working closely with the NAACP and other groups to ensure that every voter in every ward has the best of their knowledge of the leaderboard vote before they go to their polling station,” she added.