Authored on October 17, 2019


If New Yorkers know one thing, it’s how to choose among a wide array of options: subway routes, pizza parlors, clothing boutiques, Broadway shows. The nice thing about having these choices is that you can rank-order them; if your first isn’t available, you’d probably be O.K. with your second or even your third. But when it comes to electing politicians, New Yorkers are in the same bind as most of the rest of the country — voters can choose only one, no matter how much they like him or her, or how many other candidates are on the ballot.

The good news is that there’s a solution, in the form of Ballot Question 1 in this year’s New York City elections, for which early voting begins Oct. 26. (Election Day is Nov. 5.) That solution is called ranked-choice voting, also known as instant-runoff voting.

The initiative, part of a package of electoral reforms on the ballot, would give New Yorkers the ability to rank up to five candidates in all primaries and special elections for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president and members of the City Council, starting in 2021. If they didn’t like any of the candidates offered, they could, as always, write one in.

While ranked-choice voting has already been adopted in cities and states from coast to coast, New York City would be by far the largest jurisdiction in the country to get on board.