City Council Speaker Candidates Weigh in on Ranked Choice Voting

Graphic from Wikimedia Commons

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include City Councilmember Carlina Rivera’s comments.

The use of Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) for the first time in the recent primary has proved to be controversial.

Proponents of RCV argue that ranking your choices for office, instead of the usual one person, one vote rule of thumb, allows for more diversity and coalition building in elections. Plus, RCV was approved overwhelmingly by 10 percent of all registered voters in the off-election year 2019 referendum.

Opponents argue RCV is too confusing and serves to disenfranchise voters, especially those not involved in the inner workings of government.

One of these opponents, City Council Member I Daneek Miller (D-Queens), has proposed legislation to put RCV before voters again in the November general election. He argues that now that voters have seen RCV carried out they can make a more informed decision on the issue.

In order for the legislation to move forward, the current Speaker of the City Council Corey Johnson, who controls the council’s agenda, has to allow it before the full city council for a vote.

With that in mind, PoliticsNY asked the leading candidates to become the next Speaker the following: 

What are your views on RCV, and if you were the Speaker today would you allow Councilmember Miller’s legislation to move forward for a full city council vote?

Here are their replies:

City Councilmember Adrienne Adams
City Councilmember Justin Brannan

City Council Member Adrienne Adams (D-Queens): “I have always expressed weariness and skepticism about ranked choice voting, as well as the Board of Election’s ability to educate the public and implement this new system effectively. The debacle during the primary vote count was not only predictable, but it also hurt voters’ confidence in our election system, which we cannot afford at a time when democracy and voter’s rights are under attack. Therefore, I am a strong supporter and co-sponsor of Council Member Miller’s legislation to put ranked choice voting before the public again for the general election, when we have an engaged electorate that will turn out to the polls and make an informed decision. If I am elected City Council Speaker in January 2022, I will shine a spotlight on this issue and bring this legislation to the forefront.” 

City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn): “This needs to be a member-driven process. If members want to revisit this, then, yes, I would support holding a hearing. At a minimum, I believe a post-mortem would have value.”

City Councilmember Francisco Moya .
Council Member Keith Powers
Council Member Keith Powers
Council Member Carlina Rivera (Photo credit: council.nyc.gov)
Council Member Carlina Rivera

City Councilmember Francisco Moya (D-Queens): “It is clear that there was not enough preparation or organization to implement RCV, and it went poorly just as we, along with BLAC [Black Latino Asian Caucus] warned.

City Councilmember Keith Powers (D-Manhattan): “I was proud to be an early supporter of ranked choice voting, and am pleased to hear that this year’s election had the highest turnout in decades. We’ll have an opportunity to review all aspects of RCV in the coming months, and we’ll make any critical changes if needed.”

City Councilmember Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan): “I certainly believe we should be conducting post-election reviews of any challenges that occur so that we can work to make our system better. As Speaker, I would encourage discussion amongst all members regarding any potential reforms to our electoral process in New York City, and will look to build consensus on any potential approaches.” 

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