With the city two months away from a special election as its first test of ranked-choice voting, some City Council members are sharing this sentiment:
“We’re not ready for this in New York City. We are not ready for this," said Council member Adrienne Adams of Queens.
Good-government groups, meanwhile, are pushing back.
“It would be a mistake to undermine and underestimate the voters’ abilities, the fact is New York City is ready to rank," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.
A City Council oversight hearing Monday served up a platform for council members who say the new voting system will disadvantage minority voters and senior citizens.
Ranked-choice voting will be used on a massive, citywide scale in next June’s primaries, which involve dozens of open seats, most notably for mayor.
“I am going to do everything in my power to fight against this, with the power of all of my ancestors behind me, because too many people fought and died for the right to vote," said Council member Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn. "And it’s going to be too difficult to explain to our communities, similar to the Electoral College, how the person with the most votes did not win the election.”
Many — but not all — members of the council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus want a so-called pause on the implementation of the new system requiring voters to rank candidates in order of preference.
“I think that there’s a misconception that New York City voters are not intelligent enough — specifically Black and brown voters — are not intelligent enough to do ranked-choice voting," said Council member Antonio Reynoso, whose district covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens. "And I take offense to that.”
With ranked-choice voting, if no contender wins a majority, the worst performer is eliminated and with his or her votes redistributed, the process continuing until a candidate does surpass 50%.
The city Campaign Finance Board says informational campaigns are underway.
The shift to ranked-choice voting was approved by 73% of voters in 2019.
The Black, Latino and Asian Caucus tweeted Monday about the low turnout in that election.
It would take legislation to delay the roll out, and a caucus representative tells NY1 it's open to all options.
And for its part — despite a year of operational snafus — the city Board of Elections said it’ll be ready for ranked-choice voting.
“We have enough alacrity to adjust to changes in circumstances,” said Michael Ryan, the board's executive director.