Ranked-Choice Voting in New York City

The June 22 election will be the first primary election in New York City to use a new system called ranked-choice voting. Ranked-choice voting is a system of voting that allows voters to rank up to their top five candidates for each office, in order of preference, rather than only being able to vote for a single candidate for each office, as you are used to.

This means that your ballot will look different this year and it’s important to make sure that you understand how the new ranked-choice voting system works so that your voice is heard in this critical election.

Review the frequently asked questions below to make sure that you know how to vote.

How does ranked-choice voting work?

Ranked-choice voting is a system that makes sure that the person who ultimately wins an election is someone who has the support of the majority of voters. Without ranked-choice voting, if there are many candidates running for the same office, a candidate can win the election with much less than 50%+1 (a majority) of the vote.

With ranked-choice voting, instead of a voter picking one candidate for each office, as you would normally, voters can rank up to five candidates for each office, in order of their preference: one, two, three, four, five.

If a candidate is ranked as the first choice by more than half of voters, they will win the election. However, if no candidate is ranked as the first choice by a majority of voters, the candidate who receives the fewest first choice votes is eliminated. Voters who ranked the eliminated candidate as their first choice will now have their votes counted toward their second choice. This process continues until a candidate wins over 50% of the votes.

By counting the votes in this way, every New Yorker’s vote counts, even if your vote cannot help your top candidate win, your vote counts for your next choice.

How do I fill out my ballot in light of ranked-choice voting?

1. First, find the name of your first-choice candidate and fill in the oval next to their name in the #1 column.

2. Next, find your second-choice candidate (if you have a second choice) and fill in the oval next to their name in the #2 column, and so on for up to five total candidates.

Beyond this, keep the following three NOs in mind:

No #1:

You don’t have to rank every candidate.
If you do not want to vote for a specific candidate, leave the oval next to the name of the candidate for whom you do not want to vote for blank.

No #2:

You cannot rank the same candidate multiple times. Every candidate should have a maximum of one oval filled in next to their name.

No #3:

You cannot give different candidates the same rank. You can’t have two second or third favorites, for example. You must choose which candidate to rank higher or lower, or you may choose not to rank a given candidate at all.

Why ranked-choice voting?

Ranked-choice voting gives you more of a say in deciding an election because even if your top choice doesn’t win, your vote can still count towards helping another candidate whom you like or preventing a candidate you don’t like from winning.

Because candidates will need broad support (even from voters who may not rank them first), campaigns are more likely to focus on appealing to a broad subset of voters, rather than appealing to a narrow base or attacking each other.

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 color, making their elected officials more representative of their communities.

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