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Ranked Choice Voting in Western New York? Successes & Lessons from New York City

Date: May 8, 2023
Author(s): Jay Wendland, Erin Carman
Topic(s): Equality / Civil Rights: General, Government: Elections, Government: General, Government: Local Government Bodies
Type: Policy Brief

Western New York (WNY) should consider joining the ranks of the sixty-two jurisdictions nation-wide that have chosen Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) over the more commonly used plurality voting system. In weighing the importance of such a change, voters and leaders may consider lessons and successes learned from New York City (NYC) in its adoption and implementation of RCV.

NYC is the largest city in the country and the first city in New York State to use RCV. The results of the election and exit poll data from the June 2021 primary show that voters liked the new choice system, participated heavily in the opportunity to rank, understood the instructions and ballot, and selected a record-breaking number of diverse nominees that won with a majority in the final round. With the largely positive results, cities considering adoption of RCV can examine lessons learned from the NYC experience before enacting RCV locally.