Voters embracing ranked choice

Peter Mcdermott :: Irish Echo

By Peter McDermott

“It works well at home,” the Galway City native said of ranked-choice voting. “But that’s in multi-seat constituencies.”

Under the Single Transferable Vote system of proportional representation, his own Galway West district or constituency, which includes Galway City, elects five members to Dáil Éireann. For many years, Ireland’s current president, Michael D. Higgins, was one of them; as a member of the Labour Party, which usually got less than a fifth of the vote nationally, he might have struggled to have had a political career under a non-PR system.

“We’ll see how it plays out here,” Finnegan said of New York’s form of preference voting.

Most attention is focused on primary voters being able to express preferences for up to five candidates in the mayoral contest. This has added a great deal of interest to the crowded field on the Democratic side, which media outlets are saying has eight significant contenders involved.

The progressive Working Families Party has gotten into the spirit of the new system by recommending its supporters vote in this order: 1. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer; 2. Former non-profit executive Dianne Morales; and 3. Civil rights attorney Maya Wiley.

Co-chair of the UFT’s Irish-American Committee Doris Meyer expressed approval of the reform and gave a practical example of its efficacy. “Over the years, as an elementary school teacher, I offered students ranked-choice voting when deciding things like what to have for a holiday party: for example, pizza, Chinese food or a sandwich bar. They were always satisfied with the outcome,” she said. “Although the issue is complicated and debatable, I’m in favor of RCV because even if one’s first choice loses, the vote still counts toward electing a candidate, and it allows voters to support like-minded competitors to defeat an unfavored candidate.”

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