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NYC Council to scrutinize ranked-choice voting readiness

MSN

As some elected officials call for the city to slam the brakes on ranked-choice voting — which lets voters list candidates for office in order of preference, instead of picking just one — the City Council panel plans to hold a hearing Monday on the new method.

The Committee on Government Operations will do an oversight hearing of the Board of Elections (BOE) and city Campaign Finance Board’s (NYCCFB) readiness to conduct ranked-choice voting and inform voters about it.

The panel will also weigh a bill from Councilwoman Alicka Ampry-Samuel (D-Brooklyn) that would stipulate efforts NYCCFB and other agencies must take to educate New Yorkers.

Ampry-Samuel is part of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus, which recently called for the city to postpone the use of ranked-choice voting until sometime after primaries for offices including New York City mayor in June. Members of the group said between the pandemic and the short timeframe before next year’s primaries, lack of information about ranked-choice voting would amount to voter suppression. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a mayoral candidate, also said ranked-choice voting should be postponed.

Ampry-Samuel said she was initially opposed to rank-choice voting, which became city law in a charter amendment approved last year, but wanted to hear out the BOE and NYCCFB.

“I’m really going in there with an open mind to really get an understanding,” she told the Daily News on Thursday. “If they don’t know what they’re doing, they should not continue to move forward with ranked-choice voting in the upcoming elections in 2021.”

Next week’s hearing will also cover a bill requiring the BOE to post results showing how candidates fare through rounds of elimination. Under the new method, if no candidate wins a majority of first-choice votes, a process of elimination ensues. The candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is discarded, and people who voted for him or her get their second choices counted, instead. The process continues until someone gets more than 50% of the ballot.

“I remain very enthusiastic about ranked-choice voting, which all the evidence shows enables more people to participate and elect more diverse candidates that have stronger support,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), who’s sponsoring the second bill.

An NYCCFB spokesman said the board has been planning for ranked-choice voting all year and will mail postcards, provide training and take other steps to educate New Yorkers about it.

“The CFB is dedicated to giving voters, especially in underrepresented communities, the timely and accurate information they need to cast a ballot safely and effectively,” spokesman Matthew Sollars said in a statement.

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