4 takeaways from New York City’s attempt to use ranked-choice voting to pick its next crop of politicians

New York City mayoral candidate Eric Adams points his right finger in the air outside of his Brooklyn campaign office in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.
New York City Democratic Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams.

  • This past June, New York City became the largest city to use ranked choice voting.
  • The Board of Elections messed up on messaging and tabulation, but in the end the system worked.
  • While the mayor race was a fiasco, ranked choice was huge for contentious city council races.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Ranked-choice voting worked as intended, but its New York City debut didn’t go off without a few hitches.

Ranked-choice voting is a type of ballot that asks voters to list their choices – In New York’s case, five – in their order of preference. When the votes are in, the lowest-ranked candidate has their ballots reallocated to their voters’ second choices, and then so on and so forth until someone breaks 50%. This means a second runoff election is unnecessary – the runoff is done instantly – and that the winner with the broadest support eventually wins.

For the 2021 mayor race, Democrats had a long list of options, but the most popular candidates were Eric Adams, Maya Wiley, Kathryn Garcia, Andrew Yang, Scott Stringer, Ray McGuire, Dianne Morales, and Shaun Donovan.

Some voters may have found themselves doing more homework than they anticipated ahead of filling out their five choices for mayor in the Democratic primary. Still, the elimination system worked exactly as it was supposed to once it became clear no one would finish the first round as an outright winner with at least 50% of the vote.

The real drama and chaos that came with counting the votes was solely the result of an underprepared City Board of Elections, not an inherent feature of the ranked-choice systemGotham voters approved in 2019.

1. Ranked-choice worked, but in the process illustrated how divided New York City’s Democratic voters are

At a rather unprecedented scale in American politics, ranked-choice voting showed how a divided party could choose a candidate if enough voters indicated they could at least live with their second, third, fourth, or fifth choice.

Of the approximately 937,000 votes cast, only 139,459 ballots became “exhausted” by the final round, meaning that only about 15% of voters did not rank either of the final two contenders – former NYPD officer currently serving as Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams and former City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

Ranked-choice voting also had nothing to do with the lackluster showing among further left candidates in the race. Voters were left split after City Comptroller Scott Stringer locked up most of the key progressive endorsements early on, only to have his campaign sink to fifth place.

It was Stringer’s lack of charisma, unoriginal messaging, and a pair of sexual assault allegations – both of which he denies – that sunk his campaign. Stringer’s demise left the progressive wing of the party adrift with minimal options, and it was far too late in the cycle to effectively consolidate around any of them, despite a strong late push from Maya Wiley.

Andrew Yang walks past his reflection in a window.
Former New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.

2. Some candidates eventually played strategically, but probably too late in the game. They’ll be better next time

Key to Garcia making it until the final round was a gamble she took late in the campaign by appearing at events with Andrew Yang, who finished in fourth.

Garcia had won a critical endorsement from The New York Times editorial board but was still running in third place through most of the early rounds. Once Yang was out of the race, enough of his voters ranked Garcia second that she was able to vault over Wiley and compete with Adams for the top spot, ultimately falling fewer than 10,000 votes short.

While the Yang campaign did actively strategize around ranked-choice voting to some extent – whether through a big gamble like the Garcia quasi-alliance or by playing pickup basketball with 11th place finisher Paperboy Prince – most of the campaign strategy ended up being more conventional.

Garcia wouldn’t even fully commit to a true alliance with Yang, and no other candidates experimented with joint campaigning beside them.

The next time around, if there’s a full campaign calendar instead of months of Zoom forums, mid-to-lower-tier campaigns may embrace forming alliances and coalitions as a low-risk, high-reward strategy.

Bill de Blasio

3. Ranked-choice didn’t upend the fundamentals of elected politics in New York, but did stave off a costly, laborious runoff

Adams won the primary by executing on his campaign’s simple but effective formula of winning as many labor endorsements as possible and shoring up a base of outer-borough Black voters, particularly homeowners and union members.

His coalition was similar to the one that vaulted outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio over the finish line in 2013, ceding ground in Manhattan and gentrified Brooklyn while running up the score among predominately Black precincts in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

Ranked-choice voting didn’t change the fact that a relatively small slice of New York’s overall population will have an effective say in their mayor, given Democrats outnumbering Republicans by around seven to one in registrations.

However, Adams avoided what would have been a costly runoff under the old system, saving not only his own campaign’s money, but also matching funds from the city and other outlays to produce another voting day before Election Day in November.

In 2013, de Blasio won the primary and, by extension, the de facto claim to the mayor’s office with just 260,473 votes. Adams only got around 253,000 from the first round of voting. Now, he can securely claim the mantle of his party, having secured over half the vote when all was said and done, not a mere plurality.

Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Kathryn Garcia enters a debate, backed by supporters.
Democratic New York City mayoral candidate and former NYC Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia.

4. Ranked-choice really shines down ballot

Besides the top-tier races, the ranked-choice system absolutely bears out looking down ballot.

Take, for instance, the open City Council district in Queens’ 26th District. There are fifteen contenders for the Democratic nomination in the 26th, all of whom have similar, though not identical, politics.

Looking at just the first-round results, in a first-past-the-post system, Julie Won, winner of the primary, would have done so with just 18.5% of the vote, less than a percentage point above her nearest rival, Amit S. Bagga. Just over 3,300 people would have selected the winner of a district representing over 161,000 people.

Thanks to the ranked-choice system, after a dozen rounds of reallocating votes, Won remains the victor, but can now claim the seat with a decisive 56% of the vote, beating Bagga by over 13 percentage points. A complicated, complex field simplified with a single trip to the ballot box.

The rollout of ranked-choice voting may have been a hassle and unnecessarily stressful in the counting process, but everywhere else, it found a winner in precisely the way voters said they wanted it to back when they passed it in 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A volunteer for NYC mayoral candidate Eric Adams was stabbed while out canvassing in the Bronx

Eric Adams speaks into a microphone with his face mask hanging off his ear.
In this March 24, 2021, photo, Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President and a Democratic mayoral candidate, speaks during a ‘I Want My Miracle Back’ rally, in the Bronx borough of New York.

  • A volunteer for Eric Adams’ campaign was stabbed in the Bronx on Saturday.
  • The volunteer was out canvassing when he was approached by two men who fled after one stabbed him.
  • Adams is part of a crowded field of Democrats in the NYC mayoral primary election on Tuesday.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A 42-year-old volunteer for the campaign of Eric Adams, who is running for mayor of New York City, was stabbed Sunday while out canvassing in the Bronx, the campaign said.

“A member of Team Adams – who has been working hard & volunteering every day – was stabbed in the Bronx today,” Adams, a former police officer, tweeted. “We pray for him. This violence must stop.”

The volunteer was holding campaign literature when he was approached by two people he engaged in a brief argument with before one of them stabbed him repeatedly, the New York Daily News reported. The two then ran off.

The incident was captured on surveillance footage, according to NBC4. The victim was taken to Lincoln Hospital and is in stable condition.

Fellow mayoral candidates responded to Adams’ tweet to offer their support.

“Horrible news. My thoughts are with your volunteer, their family, and your entire team, Eric,” Andrew Yang, who is in the race, tweeted.

New York City’s mayoral primaries take place on Tuesday with a crowded field of Democrats, including Adams and Yang.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Andrew Yang blasts ‘racist’ New York Daily News cartoon of him in Times Square, warning campaign rivals over anti-Asian sentiment

andrew evelyn yang together anti asian hate
Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Andrew Yang and his wife, Evelyn.

  • NYC mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang held a press conference dedicated to anti-Asian hate on Tuesday.
  • Yang responded to a New York Daily News cartoon of him in Times Square and a recent subway attack.
  • He also warned campaign rivals over taking advantage of an “anti-Asian sentiment” in the city.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In response to another recent subway attack and a widely-condemned New York Daily News cartoon depicting him as an Asian tourist, Democratic New York City mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang called out a rise in “anti-Asian sentiment” and hate crimes at a press conference Tuesday at the 21st Street-Queensbridge F train stop.

He was joined by his wife, Evelyn, a Queens native, who described the cartoon as a “racist disfiguration” of her husband’s face.

Yang also warned his campaign rivals not to take advantage of any anti-Asian sentiment in the city, saying he normally wants to give people “the benefit of the doubt,” but that in light of recent events, continued broadsides against him as a neophyte and fake New Yorker have made a connection “impossible to ignore.”

“I’m talking about statements that are over the course of a campaign that has been going on for months,” Yang said of rival campaigns either explicitly or implicitly saying that he is not a true New Yorker.

Yang specifically referenced a spokesman for City Comptroller Scott Stringer saying “We welcome Andrew Yang to the mayor’s race – and to New York City” back in January, but otherwise refrained from calling out any competitors directly.

Evelyn, who became visibly emotional when she spoke at the news conference, decried a “toxic narrative” of her husband being “not a real New Yorker … somehow more foreign, less of this place.”

Yang was joined by several prominent city and state lawmakers of Asian descent, several of whom spoke about their experiences with racism while out in public.

Through most of the crowded primary campaign, Yang has held off from attacking competitors, even heaping praise on some, such as former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, whom he said would be an ideal deputy mayor given her experience in city government.

However, Yang began a recent event about lowering the city voting age to 16 by criticizing Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams over alleged campaign finance violations in the Big Apple’s public funds matching system, which were unearthed in a New York Times investigation.

Adams, who has traded places with Yang for first and second in the limited public polling so far, has been more assertive in his attacks against Yang in recent weeks.

“Choose your side. The good side or the ⁦Yang side,” Adams told reporters the same day Yang went after him over the matching donations from developers who lobbied him over zoning changes.

The borough president’s campaign also released a statement earlier in the race, saying, “Eric doesn’t need a tour of Brownsville. He was born there.”

Read the original article on Business Insider