Ranked-Choice Voting Is Here, So Be Prepared

Clarisa Diaz :: Gothamist

Elections in New York City are going to be radically different in 2021, as the city has officially entered the era of ranked-choice voting, after New Yorkers voted "yes" on a 2019 ballot question. Now, one community in Queens will be the first to experience it, with the special election for the 24th Council District that starts with early voting on Saturday, January 23rd.

Most New Yorkers who were registered with a political party will get a chance to try ranked-choice voting for the first time on June 12th when early voting for the primary begins. However, there are actually three more special elections—for Council Districts 31 (special election day February 23rd, with early voting beginning before that) and 11 and 15 (March 23rd, with early voting before that)—before June, where Bronx and Queens voters will get also another chance to try out the new system.


Instead of selecting just one candidate during the primary, ranked-choice voting allows voters to select up to five candidates in order of preference.

Note: Do not mark more than one candidate per row (like, don't say that Candidate B is your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th choice) and do not mark more than one candidate per column (do not say both Candidate A and Candidate B are your 1st choice). The ballot scanner will tell you if you are marking more than one candidate per column.

After your ballot is cast, the Board of Elections will tally votes. If a candidate gets more than 50% of the first-choice vote, that candidate wins the election. But if no candidate gets more than 50%, this is where ranked-choice voting kicks in.

The candidate with the least number of first-choice votes is eliminated, and everyone who voted for that last-place candidate will have their second-choice voices tallied and redistributed among the other candidates.

If a candidate gets more than 50% of this round 2 vote, then there's a winner.

If no candidate gets more than 50%, and the process starts again, with the candidate who has the lease number of first-choice votes getting eliminating and their voters' second-choice selections getting redistributed.

This happens until there's one candidate with more than 50% of the first- and second-choice vote. The Board of Elections calls this a "process of elimination" until there is a winner.

Here are FAQs about ranked-choice voting from the Board of Elections and Campaign Finance Board. The BOE has also created a video to explain RCV:

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