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Lifton Proposes “Ranked Choice” Voting Option For Local Elections

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Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton yesterday introduced a bill in the State Assembly that would allow “ranked choice” voting to be conducted on a trial basis for county and local elections, including school boards.

That would be a local option, subject to a vote by residents of that municipality, and would potentially begin in the 2022-23 elections.

In contrast to the current method of voting,  “ranked choice” would differ by allowing voters to rank multiple candidates by order of preference.

If the candidate with the most first-choice votes wins a majority of votes, then that candidate wins the election. However, if no candidate wins a majority, then the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated, and supporters of that candidate will have their second-choice votes counted. The process repeats automatically until one candidate receives a majority of the votes.

Lifton says this type of voting would also save money for municipalities by avoiding the cost of runoff elections.

Lifton:

““The ranked choice voting system has several potential benefits. For starters, in a race with multiple candidates, it allows voters to choose their favorite candidate without fear that they will play the spoiler and help elect a candidate to whom they are strongly opposed.

Secondly, it likely cuts down on negative campaigning, because it encourages candidates to seek out second- and even third-choice votes, thus discouraging candidates from alienating voters who support another candidate as their first choice.

Finally – and this in my mind is probably the biggest advantage – it encourages higher voter turnout and ensures that the winning candidate has true majority support, rather than just a plurality in a multi-candidate contest.”

Despite recent improvements, New York State still has the ninth lowest voter turnout rate in the country.

This bill will now be reviewed in the New York State Senate.

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