Here’s how ranked choice voting will work in the NYC mayoral primary election

New Yorkers head to the polls on Tuesday in the city’s first ranked-choice primary election for mayor

John Bowden
Tuesday 22 June 2021 15:06
<p>Andrew Yang campaigns for New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary.</p>

Andrew Yang campaigns for New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary.

New Yorkers will head to the polls on Tuesday in the city’s mayoral primary election. And for the first time, the city will use ranked-choice voting to determine the nominees for mayor.

Ranked-choice voting, passed by ballot initiative in 2019, allows New Yorkers to rank up to five candidates on their mayoral primary ballot, though depending on which party’s primary in which they participate, they may not have that many options. While a large field of Democrats are running, just two GOP candidates will be on the ballot.

In order to advance to the general election, a candidate must either be ranked no 1 on votes from 50 per cent or more of all voters, or win a runoff that consists of rounds of counting votes after each of which the candidate with the least number of votes will be eliminated. Individual ballots will only be counted as one vote for one candidate, but if the highest-ranked candidate on a voter’s ballot is eliminated, the ballot will change to be counted for the next-highest-ranked contender.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, one of the front-runners in the Democratic mayoral primary

Supporters of the system point to higher voter turnout rates and less negative campaign tactics as candidates fight for larger segments of the voting population.

“Ranked Choice Voting also leads to more diverse candidates winning office. Cities that have implemented Ranked Choice Voting have elected more women and more women of colour, making their elected officials more representative of their communities,” reads the city’s website.

Because the votes will likely be counted in several rounds, the official results could take weeks to be reported.

The general election will almost certainly be won by a Democrat in the heavily blue city, making Tuesday election the most-watched aspect of the contest. A poll released on Monday that was shared with The Independent indicated that Maya Wiley, Eric Adams, and Kathryn Garcia currently lead the field as frontrunners, with Andrew Yang also capturing a significant portion of the vote.

Other jurisdictions in the US have implemented ranked-choice voting as well, but New York’s move in 2019 to switch to the system made the city the most-populous jurisdiction in the country to do so.

Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia campaign together

Mr Yang and Ms Garcia, respectively fourth and third in the poll, appeared jointly at a campaign event over the weekend encouraging their supporters to rank both candidates on their ballots in an an effort to stave off the dominance of Mr Adams, who leads the poll, as well as Ms Wiley who in recent weeks has received high-profile endorsements from congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats.

The move was sharply criticized by Mr Adams, who is Black and argued that Mr Yang, an Asian American, and Ms Garcia, a white woman, were conspiring to prevent a “person of colour” from becoming the city’s next mayor.

Pressed on whether his comments were racist by themselves given the ongoing surge of anti-Asian violence across the US including in New York, Mr Adams corrected himself and said that he believed Mr Yang and Ms Garcia did not want a Black or Latino person to become mayor, and doubled down on criticizing them for appearing together on Juneteenth.

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