Ranked-Choice Voting for NYC

over a dozen candidates for mayor


I’m rather excited that New York City is using Ranked-Choice Voting for its Primary Election this year. “In a 2019 ballot measure, 73.5% of New York City Voters voted yes for RCV.”

Election Day is Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm. The Early Voting Period is June 12, 2021 – June 20, 2021.

The offices up include MAYOR, PUBLIC ADVOCATE, COMPTROLLER, BOROUGH PRESIDENT, and CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS. BTW, You are required to wear a mask/face covering and maintain 6 feet of distance when entering any Board of Elections facility.

For mayor, the Democratic candidates are, in order of their strength in a recent  poll:

Eric L. Adams, Brooklyn 11221 – 22%
Andrew Yang, Manhattan 10036 – 16% – the guy who ran for President last year
Kathryn A. Garcia, Brooklyn 11215 – 15% – she was commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department and is running as a largely apolitical type who gets stuff done
Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan 10004 – 10%
Maya D. Wiley, Brooklyn 11226 – 9% – trying to be the first Black woman Mayor of New York City. Supported by AOC and some other progressives.
Dianne Morales, Brooklyn 11216 – 5%
Raymond J. McGuire, Manhattan 10023 – 4%
Shaun Donovan, Brooklyn 11217 – 3%

Aaron S. Foldenauer, Manhattan 10006
Paperboy Love Prince, Brooklyn, NY 11221
Art Chang, Brooklyn 11238
Isaac Wright Jr., Ridgewood (Queens) 11385
Joycelyn Taylor, Brooklyn 11216

The Republicans pit Fernando Mateo against Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels.

How this works

A voter can “rank up to 5 candidates in order of preference: your 1st choice candidate, your 2nd choice candidate, and so on up to your 5th choice candidate… You cannot rank the same candidate more than once.” Yes, you can write in candidates.

“If a candidate receives more than 50% of 1st-choice votes, they are the winner. If no candidate earns more than 50% of 1st-choice votes, then counting will continue in rounds. At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated.

“If your first choice is eliminated, your next choice will be counted, and so on. The process of elimination continues until there is a winner.

I’ve been advocating for some form of the instant runoff election in the US for over a decade.

The strategy is that the candidates want to make the top 5 of as many ballots as possible. So it’ll be to their advantage not to alienate someone who you could be a second or third pick. The level of trash-talking in such a large field seems relatively minor.

I have no strong rooting interest here. I might have voted for PLP because, as noted on Twitter: “Thanks for ranking me #1 make sure to rank me before ‘top’ candidates so your vote for me counts! Let’s show them how strong the movement of love really is!”

Seriously, Garcia would definitely be on my list. Beyond that, I’m not at all sure. And since I can’t vote anyway, I won’t sweat it.

WRONG! You can’t have two first picks

Abolish the Electoral College?

Here’s Arthur with another Ask Roger Anything question:

Where are you at now with the whole “abolish the Electoral College” thing?

Let me back up and address the request by several entities, including my local paper, to deny Prima Donald an Electoral College victory.

I had real ambivalence about it – rather than outright rejection – because a number of people I knew and respected supported it. I didn’t think it would work, but then again, I didn’t think AO would win the electoral vote.

And I wasn’t sure that it SHOULD work because using a maneuver that hadn’t used in two centuries would not go down well with a large swatch of the public. The only thing I wrote, I believe, was that we could deny him an EC victory now or impeach him later, since, like many people, I believe he will be at least subject to impeachment on January 20.

As you know, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 states that no American officeholder shall, “without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” But that is exactly what Bratman is about to do, without divestment, or a blind trust, which having the kids run the show after being part of the transition does not qualify. He risks endangering American democracy.

It is true that for the second time in five elections, a presidential candidate who won the most popular votes lost the election. Hillary won the popular vote by nearly three million ballots. Still, I’m not so sure that abolition of the Electoral College is the solution.

How do you address Republicans’ belief that if the EC was abolished, big states (California, New York, etc.) would solely choose the winner?

Click the map to create your own at 270toWin.com

It COULD happen in either system. Avoiding that was the reason for the initial design. Instead of concentrating on “swing states”, one could concentrate on large states. Instead of ignoring New York and Texas, one could ignore New Hampshire and New Mexico. People would still fly over Wyoming and Delaware in favor of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

And state borders are so random. So are counties, BTW, which is why you have 62 of them in New York, some large and relatively empty others with great density, and nearly 200 fewer counties there than Texas.

Here’s an interesting article in the New Republic from 2012. I agree that the Electoral College is a terribly difficult system to explain. Yet I do think that the argument that (choke) Mitch McConnell articulated it in 2001 is not necessarily wrong that, absent the EC, we could have had recounts in almost EVERY state, not just Florida, in 2000.

The REAL problem for me with abolishing the Electoral College is that we have the first past the post system, where the person with the plurality, even a small plurality, say 34% in a three-person race, of the vote, rather than the majority, could become President. I’ve become a broken record on this, but we need ranked, Instant Runoff Voting; this would make me more enthused about getting rid of the EC. Otherwise, a candidate could manage to win PLURALITIES in a few large states and win.

Once upon a time, in this blog, I had suggested that all the states should switch to the way Maine and Nebraska do it, with the electoral votes apportioned by Congressional district, and the statewide winner getting the other two electoral votes. But when I realized that, in 2012, more people voted for Democrats for the US House of Representatives, but Republicans won the majority of the seats, I had an epiphany. THAT WON’T WORK unless there is a way to draw Congressional lines in an unbiased, non-partisan way, which, of course, means state legislatures ceding power to a fair third-party entity, since they cannot do it themselves.

So I have no strong feelings on the EC, but I am for IRV being instituted AND having fair Congressional lines being drawn, plus ending voter suppression, which may have made a difference in this election. BTW, Arthur answered the question himself, after he asked me but before I had a chance to post this.

As part of a larger question, which I will deal with later, Jaquandor notes that the election of Darth Hater was-
ultimately abetted by a weird quirk in our electoral system (a quirk that, for all the defense it gets, has not been replicated ANYWHERE on Earth in anybody else’s electoral system)

I can’t say that I know how every country works electorally and am not energized enough to investigate them fully. Wikipedia suggests there ARE other countries with electoral colleges, though the ones for which they give specifics are in no large way anything like our system.


The Mississippi US Senate runoff: a poster child for Instant Runoff Voting

Even though New York does not have runoffs, it’s often been the case that a candidate has been elected with less than a majority of the vote.

LADYVOTING_000As you may know, there was a Republican primary for the US Senate seat between longtime incumbent Thad Cochran and Tea Party darling Chris McDaniel on June 3.

Chris McDaniel 155,040 49.5 %
Thad Cochran 153,654 49.0 INCUMBENT
Thomas Carey 4,789 1.5

The Democrats also had their primary for the seat. You probably didn’t know that because a Democrat is highly unlikely to win in the general election in November:
Travis Childers 62,545 74.2%
Bill Marcy 10,134 12.0
William Compton 8,261 9.8
Jonathan Rawl 3,399 4.0

Mississippi election law requires a candidate to win a majority of the vote to be nominated, and McDaniel barely missed the threshold. This meant a runoff election for June 24.

Runoff elections are particularly expensive because 37 of the 40 Senate run-off elections since 1980 have seen decreases in turnout from the initial primary, “reflecting the difficulty in getting voters to care about a primary election two times in a row.”

This, however, was a different beast. The race had “become a proving ground for some Tea Party groups… On top of that, add the deliberate effort by Cochran’s camp to turn out more black voters, mixing up the expected voter pool. That makes predicting turnout tough.” As it turns out, there was a much HIGHER turnout for the runoff.

Cochran * 191,508 50.9%
McDaniel 184,815 49.1

From the Ballotopedia: “Mississippi is one of 21 states with a mixed primary system. Voters do not have to register with a party, but they must intend to support the party nominations if they vote in the primary election.” One aspect is that voters in the Democratic primary on June 3 ought not to have been able to also vote in the Republican runoff on June 24. McDaniel supporters have suggested that’s exactly what happened.

All of this could have been avoided if Mississippi had instituted Instant Runoff Voting:

Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (i.e. first, second, third, fourth and so on). Voters have the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish, but can vote without fear that ranking less favored candidates will harm the chances of their most preferred candidates. First choices are then tabulated. If more than two candidates receive votes, a series of runoffs are simulated, using voters’ preferences as indicated on their ballot.
The candidate who receives the fewest first choice rankings is eliminated. All ballots are then retabulated, with each ballot counting as one vote for each voter’s highest ranked candidate who has not been eliminated.

In the Mississippi GOP scenario, after the June 3 primary, Thomas Carey’s votes would have been distributed to Cochran and McDaniel, based on who was Carey voters’ second choice. The majority would have been reached. There would have been no need for the June 24 runoff, and no chance for the Democratic party supporters to vote in the Republican primary without foregoing their opportunity to vote in their OWN primary.

IRV is being used in a number of US jurisdictions, sometimes only for overseas ballots, but sometimes more extensively. Several locales internationally use it as well.

I’d love to see IRV implemented in New York State. Even though New York does not have runoffs, it’s often been the case that a candidate has been elected with less than a majority of the vote. The governor’s race this fall would be a real reflection of the Green Party support since people would not feel that their vote was being “thrown away” on a candidate who could not win. Of course, it can’t happen that soon, but it’s still worth considering.
Mark Mayfield, a leading tea party activist in Mississippi who was indicted in an alleged plot to break into a nursing home to film Sen. Thad Cochran’s ailing wife, has died. “Ridgeland, Miss. police say they are investigating the case as a suicide after Mayfield was found dead of a gunshot wound in his home.”

Petition for better US elections

The voting system used by the US, called “plurality voting”, is notoriously flawed. Voters who favor a third-party candidate are forced into a dilemma: they can either vote sincerely and “waste” their vote on a third party, or vote defensively and pick the lesser of two evils.

“A well-funded group called Americans Elect is planning to hold a national primary election on the Internet with the aim of nominating a centrist third-party candidate for president in 2012.” According to the Los Angeles Times, they are considering New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, or even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Assuming this gets off the ground – Bloomberg and Clinton are on the record as not wanting the job – the way the US elections are stacked, they could not win. Theoretically, though, a third party could play a role as a spoiler. George Wallace in 1968, John B. Anderson in 1980, H. Ross Perot in 1992, and Ralph Nader in 2000 may have made a difference in their respective races.

There is a petition to the White House – did you know you could create an electronic petition to the White House? – to create a fairer voting method:

The voting system used by the US, called “plurality voting”, is notoriously flawed. Voters who favor a third-party candidate are forced into a dilemma: they can either vote sincerely and “waste” their vote on a third party, or vote defensively and pick the lesser of two evils.

Plurality voting suppresses new ideas and encourages campaigns built around negative attacks. The effect of this system is to virtually exclude all but two political parties (The last third-party president was elected in the 1850s).

The solution is well known and deceptively simple: rewrite our ballots to use a fair system such as “instant runoff voting”. This voting system is used in several US cities and worldwide with great success [see, for example, fairvote.org/what-is-irv].

There can never be a sustainable third-party movement in the United States as long as there is plurality voting. I support instant runoff voting as a viable option to the status quo. It can’t be implemented nationally in time for 2012, although it is already used in several locales in the United States and around the world.

Movie Anagrams

These aren’t necessarily who I want to win – I’d take Rush over Bale, for one – but who I THINK will win.

During the trivia contest in which a friend regularly participates, one of the categories was ‘movie title anagrams’. Since it’s Oscar week, see how many you can get in the same allotted ten minutes.

1. The Rave Bra
2. That Mixer
3. Tiger Rut
4. Haled Wirer
5. Local Rattle
6. Whale on Plate
7. Mayfly Raid
8. Pan Tool
9. New Tramp Toy
10. Greet a Pest Ache

I won’t approve any quiz answers for the first 24 hours, so everyone will be on equal footing.

I had written about my early Oscar picks here four weeks ago. I had intended to see several more films in the intervening time, but life (and death) got in the way. The only full-length movie I’ve seen since then is Blue Valentine, about which I will write soon. So I guess I’ll let my picks from last month stand: Firth, Bale, Portman and Steinfeld in the acting categories; The Social Network and The King’s Speech in the screenplay categories; The King’s Speech for Best Picture. Which means I have to actually make a selection for Best Director, and my gut says The Social Network’s David Fincher over The King’s Speech’s Tom Hooper, with the Academy spreading the wealth. These aren’t necessarily who I want to win – I’d take Rush over Bale, for one – but who I THINK will win.

The Best Picture vote uses Instant Runoff Voting. What does that mean? See HERE.

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