Straight out of my Youth and Government dreams, ranked-choice voting is getting a shot at the big leagues as it is being implemented in this year’s New York City mayoral primary.
Though this is not the first time that the system is being used, ranked-choice voting remains uncommon as contentions against it have largely hindered the growing movement in its favor.
Still, as New York City is by far, the largest jurisdiction to implement it, it’s Board of Elections is expected to face greater scrutiny than ever before. With that, observers are left asking: What is ranked-choice voting? And why is it so controversial?
Under the new system, voters are able to rank their preferred candidates instead of choosing just one. In the case of New York City, voters will rank their top five candidates out of thirteen on the ballot.
After collecting votes, if any one candidate received 50% plus one percent of the entire vote, they would win. If not, a second round would commence.
In round two, the person with the lowest number of votes from round one will be eliminated and that candidates’ voters’ second choice votes would be redistributed to the remaining candidates.
This process will continue until one of the candidates is able to secure 50% plus one percent of the vote.
While this may all seem complicated, advocates argue that this system is more fair and better reflects the opinion of the majority of voters.
Proponents of ranked-choice voting believe that the system, on top of being more fair, reduces negative campaigning.
Having to appeal to the majority of voters, candidates, for a lack of better words, must get voters to like them (or at least more than the next candidate).
However, opponents of the new system argue that it does nothing to combat negative campaigning as most of it is done by outside groups, unaffiliated with the candidate.
They also argue that the system would encourage other suspect agreements such as “horse-trading” in which candidates can make deals with others to ensure that their allies are ranked second on their voters’ ballots.
Despite the contentiousness of ranked-choice voting, it is fascinating to see what new systems can be implemented in efforts to better one of the critical institutions of our democracy.
<Christina Park / CAMS 12th Grade