New York City Election 2019

In Support of Ranked Choice Voting : Vote #YesOn1

NYC has an historic opportunity to bring Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) to NYC. Should we do so, we will not be the first nor would we be the last. Why? Because ranked choice voting gives the power back to the voter. Before being implemented in other cities in the U.S., valid concerns were raised about the impact this process would have on our elections. But the data shows that instant runoff elections like these save taxpayers money, empower rather than diminish the voices of minorities, and lead to more civil and fairer elections as candidates must change their campaign strategies and speak to all voters.

Let’s look at the data. Here you can review a report from FairVote’s project Representation2020, backed by research, showing the impact RCV has on women and candidates of color. The whole report is worth a read, but here is the executive summary: 

This study examines the effect of ranked choice voting (RCV) on women and people of color running for elected office in the California Bay Area. San Francisco began using ranked choice voting in 2004 for their city elections, followed by Oakland, Berkeley, and San Leandro in 2010. The findings of the study reveal that RCV increases descriptive representation for women, people of color, and women of color. Some reasons for RCV’s positive effects can be related to how often it replaces low, unrepresentative, turnout elections and that it allows for multiple candidates appealing to the same community to run without splitting the vote. The unambiguously positive impact of RCV on descriptive representation encourages further study. 

And here is a shorter report from April 2018:

Ranked choice voting (RCV) requires voters to rank their choices rather than only rank one. Some have asked whether a ranked ballot might have an adverse impact on people of color. To examine this question, FairVote studied elections for the 53 seats elected by RCV in four racial diverse Bay Area cities: San Francisco, Oakland, San Leandro and Berkeley. We found a strong correlation between the racial demographics of electorates and the election of people of color by those electorates. Overall, people of color and women have won far more seats since their cities started using RCV.

Finally, an article discussing whether the election of San Francisco’s first black woman mayor was due to early voting. An excerpt: 

In May, FairVote released a report showing increased candidate diversity in the Bay Area following the adoption of ranked-choice voting, ostensibly leading to the election of Breed and others. While there is a lack of academic research to corroborate this as a national trend, David Campos, the chair of the San Francisco County Democrats, believes that ranked-choice voting helped him when he ran for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

“Myself and the other Latinx candidates didn’t have to back out of the race for fear of splitting the Latinx vote. We could have respectful differences of opinion over issues and policy, yet still be the second and third choices of voters, and our community could still be heard,” Campos wrote in a blog post, critiquing the Chronicle’s editorial. “We were not spoilers for each other, and the Latinx vote did not split among too many candidates.”

“What we saw was an increase in women and people of color running,” he said. “We’re always doing more research, but one could compare the top-two election system in California and see a very male-dominated field.”

These possibilities (increased representation and more civil, and less expensive elections) are why we support ranked choice voting and encourage you all to vote #YesOn1.


Want to support BVA? Order a T-shirt HERE!


#RestoretheVote

Those of us who attended BVA’s #restorethevote forum and/or have researched this topic know and understand that New York’s voting laws are steeped in racism. And to uphold these laws, more than a century later, without any reflection on why they were passed and if they are still needed does a disservice to all New Yorkers. Nowhere in our constitution does it state that a person loses their citizenship when convicted of a felony. Instead, the restrictions to felony enfranchisement are by operation of political calculations that we have the duty, and the right, to question. 

While we at BVA are advocating for universal voting, where losing the right to vote becomes the exception (like in instances of election fraud) rather than the rule. We understand that not everyone is ready for such transformational change (six million people across the nation have lost their right to vote) and that opinions will not change in a day. Therefore, if you are not supportive of universal voting, we challenge you to first, engage with your individual understanding of this issue and formulate your reasons for non-support, and second, to share your opinions and work with us as we explore our advocacy in this area. We want to hear all voices as we work towards our goal of establishing a more just democracy. Want to learn more? 

View or Download our one-sheet on felony disenfranchisement.

Check out The Sentencing Project. HERE

The New York Times op-ed “Tell Me Again Why Prisoners Can’t Vote.” HERE

2016 article from The Atlantic: Polls for Prisons. HERE

Whether you support universal voting or you are not ready, BVA has 2 goals regarding felony disenfranchisement:

  1. To gather information on whether your representative supports codifying Governor Cuomo’s executive order granting a conditional pardon to people on parole, thereby restoring their right to vote and/or universal voting and 
  2. To demand that the state legislature pass legislation codifying Governor Cuomo’s executive order 

Please also email bkvotersalliance@gmail.com if you receive an answer to these questions of wish to learn more or discussion felony restoration.