Ranked choice voting to be tested for first time in NYC

New York Elections
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NEW YORK — For the first time, NYC’s new ranked choice voting system will be put to the test.

No single candidate running in a special election in City Council District 31 got more than 50% of the vote. It will trigger what is known as an instant runoff.

Preliminary results show Selvena Brooks-Powers has about 38% of the vote, and next leading contender Pesach Osina has about 35%. Other candidates are at around 10% or less.

With ranked choice voting, people’s secondary choices will be considered. There were nine candidates on the ballot, and the person receiving the fewest votes will be eliminated, and their votes will be re-distributed to the person ranked second by each voter. This process will continue until one candidate has more than 50%.

This video from voting reform group Fair Vote explains the process:

However, before that even happens, the notoriously slow counting NYC Board of Elections will wait 13 days for military and absentee ballots to come in. Election workers will also do this first ranked count by hand and machine to make sure they get it right.

The relatively low turnout special council election will be viewed as a test case for the more high-profile June mayoral primaries. There are many candidates running especially on the Democratic side, and another “instant runoff” is likely.

In June, there will be a seven day pause for absentee ballots before ranked counting will begin.

Brooks-Powers knows her race has become a test of how quickly and transparently NYC can count in a ranked choice election.

“It’s our hope it’s done correctly and it’s something my campaign will be focused on and paying close attention to,” she said.

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