Opinion

Ditch ranked-choice voting in NYC

The rank incompetence of the city’s Board of Elections in counting test ballots — that no voter ever marked — in its first-ever ranked-choice vote count should be the occasion for New York to reflect on whether we really should be using this system at all.

Ranked choice — now in use in 22 US jurisdictions — has some attractive qualities. As Fair Vote — the national organization which is the system’s leading advocate — notes, it can, at least in theory, make “democracy more fair” by helping to choose a winner with the widest possible base of support.

But as the test ballot “results” made clear, this is a system that, as it stands, can introduce serious distortions. Kathryn Garcia’s open strategy to gain second place votes — which would become first place votes once Andrew Yang or others were eliminated — raises the possibility that the ultimate winner could have more runner-up than first place votes. Do we really want a Mayor who the largest number of voters think is second-best?

Kathryn Garcia campaigned with Andrew Yang in the days leading up to the primary.
Kathryn Garcia campaigned with Andrew Yang in the days leading up to the primary.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

It’s even more important to note that New York’s ranked choice system is starkly different than those of San Francisco or Oakland. Gotham is the only RCV city which retains a closed party primary. In a city where there are more than 1 million registered Independents and Republicans, those voters get no real voice at all. Well worth considering would be a process open to all, of the kinds that Blue Boston and Chicago use: a wide-open preliminary election followed by a runoff between the top two finishers.

Such a truly more inclusive system would help guard against extremists like Maya Wiley gaming the ranked-choice system in moving into Grace Mansion.

Don’t think that can’t happen. One of the reasons Minneapolis government has gone off the rails stemmed from that city’s RCV system. The sober and centrist longtime president of its City Council — who ran on a public safety-focused platform — finished first in a first vote round but lost later to a candidate who openly called for “defunding” the police.

This was NYC's first use of ranked-choice voting in an election.
This was NYC’s first use of ranked-choice voting in an election.
Mary Altaffer/AP

Ranked-choice voting is seductive in its promise of civil discourse and voter consensus. But it offers no guarantee of either. Indeed, it may have opened the door on a round of practical problems and political recriminations.

Howard Husock is an adjunct scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.


Source link

Related Articles