Caribbean voices for Ranked Choice Voting

Jumaane D. Williams
Public Advocate, Jumaane D. Williams.
Public Advocate, Jumaane D. Williams.

This fall, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) will be on the ballot as question one, according to Becky Stern of Common Cause / NY.

She told Caribbean Life that Ranked Choice Voting would apply to all local offices for primary and special elections, including New York City Council, mayor, comptroller, public advocate and borough president.

Stern said voters will be able to cast their ballots early, starting Oct. 26 – Nov. 3 at select poll sites and on Election Day, Nov. 5, at their regular poll site.

“Ranked Choice Voting gives voters the option to rank their top five candidates in primary and special elections,” Stern said. “If voters still want to vote for just one candidate, they can.

“A candidate who collects a majority of the vote, 50 percent plus one, wins,” she added. “If there’s no majority winner, the last place candidate will be eliminated and voters who ranked that candidate first have their ballots instantly counted for their second choice preference. The process is repeated until there’s a final pair with a majority winner.

Haiti District Leader Joshua Pierre, who is a candidate for the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn, said: “In our local elections, we often have multiple qualified candidates of color running for one seat.

“With Ranked Choice Voting, we can support as many as we want without worrying about splitting the vote,” he said. “RCV is a win-win for our community and all New Yorkers. Join us and vote yes on 1 this election season.

Minister Patricia Malcolm of Churches United to Save and Heal (CUSH), said Ranked Choice Voting “will help my community by ensuring we have an electoral system that allows people to vote their conscience.

“In too many instances, we are forced to vote for the lesser of two evils, instead of those candidates that truly represent us at our core,” she said. “I look forward to passing this ballot proposal on Nov. 5.”

Public Advocate, Jumaane D. Williams said Ranked Choice Voting is “an efficient and effective way New York City can improve its outdated election laws, help end voter suppression and save taxpayer dollars.

“As this campaign launches today, I proudly support the initiative and will push for its implementation,” he said. “It’s time to Rank the Vote!”

Stern noted that, in 2021, 70 percent of the City Council will be term-limited, as well as all five borough presidents, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Campaign Finance Board predicts that at least 500 candidates will be competing for open seats, meaning up to 12 candidates vying for all open seats, Stern noted.

She also pointed to a Common Cause study that found that 64 percent of multi-candidate primaries were won with less than 50 percent of the vote.

“Candidates elected through Ranked Choice Voting will always win with a majority of the vote,” Stern said.

She said that surveys conducted in California found major gains for people of color, increasing representation in majority-minority districts by 17 percent, multi-ethnic districts by 24 percent, and white majority districts by nine percent.

“Ranked Choice Voting prevents the ‘spoiler effect,’ which is one candidate splits vote with another, and encourages coalition building,” Stern said.

She said that more than 94 percent of Santa Fe voters polled during that city’s first ranked choice voting election in 2018 said they were satisfied with their voting experience.

More than 84 percent of voters reported that the new RCV ballot was not confusing, according to Stern.

She said Ranked Choice Voting is also easy to understand, referring to the Democracy Fund, which surveyed voters from 10 cities, three where Ranked Choice Voting is in use and seven where it is not.

The two year study found that voters in places with Ranked Choice Voting were happier with campaign conduct and experienced less negative campaigning than voters in places that do not use Ranked Choice Voting, Stern said.

She said a second comparative survey of voters in California in cities that do and do not use Ranked Choice Voting found that a majority supported adopting Ranked Choice Voting to improve election conduct.

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